Baba Residence

Demographic challenges; Entrepreneurship; Education

Baba Residence (baba – grandmother in Bulgarian) is an initiative bringing together urban youth and elderly people in depopulating villages in Bulgaria. It creates the soil for a truthful exchange of knowledge and care between youth and elderly through design thinking and ethnological approaches. The result is a new quality of human relations between generations, documentation and creative utilisation of local folklore and social entrepreneurial projects that help the villages flourish again.
Twenty unemployed young people go to live for 4 -6 weeks at a remote village living in elderly locals’ households. There they will learn crafts and work together with locals for the creation of a new innovative idea for a product, service or event that will attract stronger interest to the village.
It aims to connect the potential of unemployed youth people with the knowledge of the elderly from almost deserted villages in an innovative social business model, which will use Design-thinking, skills for ethnological field studies and village life with a grandmother for four to six weeks.
The participants are young people (up to 35 years old) who are students or recently (during last two years) graduated and still unemployed. People who are involved in this initiative have to be motivated to work for a positive social and economic change in society. All participants undergo training for Human Centered Design, Social Entrepreneurship, systematic and design thinking and skills in ethnological field studies. After this, they will spend between 4 and 6 weeks in one of the villages to develop the original idea or a new one that they chose while exploring unknown territories in the Rhodope Mountains and learn local crafts. Along with developing their concept and skills in a local craft, the young people should be in support of the household where they live.
Each youth must write a diary describing his/her experience. This diary is a kind of project documentation that will not only serve the participants but will also be an example and inspiration for other people who in the future want to develop their ideas for the revival of the Bulgarian village. At the end of his stay in the villages, residents should organise an ending event with locals, to which invite guests from the city.
After their residency, the young people with the most sustainable and innovative ideas become part of the Laboratory for Baba-Innovations, where with the help of mentors, they will be able to develop and accomplish their social innovation idea.

Networking, Training / Teaching, Production of goods, Assistance & Advice, Public participation
Association for anthropology, ethnology and folklore studies “Ongal”, Foundation Plovdiv 2019 (only in 2015), MOVE.BG

• Each participant in “Baba Residence” has an opportunity to achieve his specific idea, together with the people from the village where they live. This idea should have long-term effects in rural areas and the potential to attract interest in the respective village and / or to contribute to its economic and social development.
• Residences will enable participants to start learning some of the crafts practiced in the village. Interaction with old people gives invaluable knowledge of our history and traditions, which may soon be lost irrevocably. Participants also receive a different experience, as a “slower” village lifestyle that is impossible in large cities. The touch with traditions and nature enriches young people and encourages them to think about new ways to provide social empathy. At the same time, the elderly lonely people receive attention and feel useful and necessary. They also receive real help with theirs everyday work in the house from their young friends.

“The young people selected to participate in Baba Residence live for a month in elderly households, renovate shared spaces, learn traditional crafts, collect stories. They get familiar with human-centered design and receive training from professional ethnologists in collecting folklore. Participants use all these new skills to come up with social-entrepreneurial ideas together with the community, which revive the villages and bring back human, financial and other resources.”

* Information at the level of NUTS 3 or local regions.