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Village in rebellion for the elderly

22-11-2019

IJlst is a small town in the north of the Netherlands where people know each other and take care of each other. Many residents were born and raised here, married here, and raised their children here. When they get old, there is a special building where they can go to and live, still independently, but with care if necessary. The elderly form a close-knit community, no one is lonely. It is their last home, the place where they expect to die.  

 

This building, named Nij Ylostins, was designed in the Seventies as “experimental housing”, only 64 buildings in the Netherlands are designated as such. It is designed to invite the other villagers into the building, so that the elderly remain part of the town community. And once inside, you won’t see long boring hallways (as a lot of retirement homes have), but little squares and alleys, with benches, so the residents meet easily and can sit and talk. 

 

But the housing association wants to demolish the building because, according to them, it is too old-fashioned. There is no other building in town to house the elderly, so this means they have to move to retirement homes far away. Away from their family and friends, move out of the town of which they know every tile. The elderly, age 80 plus, are totally upset, their younger fellow villagers find them crying at the bridge that splits the town in two. 

 

The younger villagers see the grief of the elderly and do not accept this and start campaigning so that the elderly can continue to live in their hometown. 

 

What follows is a battle between the housing association and the city council on the one hand, and the villagers, the general practitioner and the heritage committee on the other