The Bend Neighbourhood Association
The Bend Neighbourhood Association (NA) uses consensus decision making. Please read this document for more information about how we utilise a consensus process at Bend. All Bend residents, whether owners or renters, can be involved in all aspects of consensus decision-making at Bend, as well as in the Coordination Committee and Focus Groups.
Bend was designed using the principles of permaculture to model the three permaculture ethics: earth care, people care and fair share.
Bend NA is responsible for carrying out its duties as described in the Bend Management Statement and the Community Land Management Act NSW 1989 (because we are subject to Community Title legislation).
The Bend NA Coordination Committee (CC) meets monthly and is responsible for the overall management of the NA. The CC consists of the Facilitator (Chairperson), Treasurer and Secretary, as well as 2 representatives each from the Social Focus Group, Land Focus Group and Built Environment Focus Groups, and a representative from the BENCH (Bega Eco Neighbourhood Community Housing) Co-op.
The agenda for CC meetings includes financial and legal management; support for the work of the Focus Groups; and matters which reach beyond a single Focus Group. The CC supports and approves reports from the Treasurer, and approves Focus Group work contracts. It deals with administrative tasks such as liaising with government agencies. It makes decisions on behalf of the NA on matters that fall between or among multiple focus groups and do not need to come before the whole NA.
Bend NA holds its AGM in May of each year, and General Meetings in August, November, and February. The General Meetings are attended by all Bend residents and provide an opportunity to build community and consensus skills, celebrate the achievements of the focus groups, brainstorm and give feedback about new initiatives, and ratify decisions which affect the whole NA (these proposals will have been previously worked through in detail by the relevant focus group or the CC, and vetted in advance to the whole group via email). There is a Bend NA email list which all residents can be part of, on which are posted meeting notices, agendas and minutes; notices of upcoming Bend events; and discussion of proposals.
In order to get things done on a day-to-day level, authority is delegated by the NA to the three Focus Groups to make decisions relating to their specific areas. All Bend residents are welcome and encouraged to join one or more Focus Groups.
The Land Focus Group (LFG) looks after the agricultural and conservation land at Bend. This includes organically certified land that can be used by lessees (both Bend NA members and non-members) for food production; rehabilitation of the conservation land around the anabranch of the Bega River; and an area slated for reforestation.
There are also subgroups within the LFG which look after specific areas or issues such as the communal orchard, weed management, organic certification and water provision. The LFG meets regularly, and leads monthly working bees in which all Bend residents are encouraged to participate.
The Built Environment Focus Group (BEFG) is made up of a number of subgroups including the Building Team, the Technical Team and Care of Grounds.
The Building Team (BT) oversees the approval of new house plans by Bend to ensure they meet the requirements of Bend’s Management Statement, and the maintenance of Bend’s shared built infrastructure including the Neighbourhood House, shed, drainage and paths and roadways. The BT meets on an as-needed basis.
The Technical Team (TT) ensures the upkeep of Bend’s greywater treatment system, the treated effluent irrigation system, the fire-fighting system and the photovoltaic and electrical infrastructure. The TT meets monthly.
Care of Grounds (CoG) is responsible for maintaining the environment in the built areas of Bend, including plantings, landscaping and grass maintenance. CoG holds monthly working bees for all Bend residents, as well as monthly meetings after those working bees.
From time to time special working bees called ‘Bee Minors’ are organised to focus on encouraging our children and teens to get involved in maintenance and projects around Bend, including conservation plantings in the anabranch, and construction and repair of shared play infrastructure such as trampolines and soccer goals.
The Social Focus Group (SFG) is responsible for all aspects of how we live together at Bend which includes: developing our skills in consensus decision-making, facilitation, mediation, conflict resolution and restorative circles; upkeep of and guidelines for use of the Neighbourhood House and shared laundry; support for the CC to plan General Meetings, including activities to bring the adults and children of Bend playfully together at the end of the meetings; and educating Bend residents and the wider community about all aspects of Bend including through the Bend Residents Handbook, the media and development of this website.
The SFG includes the following subgroups: Day-to-Day Management of the Neighbourhood House, Heart Team and Mediation Team. The Website Team and the Community Park are also overseen by the SFG. The SFG meets regularly.
The Bend NA holds monthly shared dinners for all residents and their friends and family in the Neighbourhood House, and winter and summer solstice parties.
All adult residents of Bend are expected to do work contribution hours (currently 4 per month) which help to keep Bend running smoothly and maintain our shared land, infrastructure and buildings. We also utilise the local LETS economy to provide payment in Sapphs for Bend residents who are contracted by the NA to perform tasks above and beyond their work contributions commitment.
In addition, owners of blocks at Bend pay levies to the NA, which provide us with an administration fund and a sinking fund (as required by the Community Land Management Act).