Bend residents share social, ecological vision

TOUR BEND THIS WEEKEND

BEND has grown into a strong community in which many people call home. 

About 20 children and 24 adults live in the quiet houses in front of the Bega River floodplains on the east side of town. 

There are two lots of housing at Bend, 10 not-for-profit community housing residences and eight privately owned houses.  

“There is the potential to have up to 100 people living here,” Bend resident Mary Dawson said. 

Ms Dawson has lived in one of the community houses with her daughter Mia for three years, since the community housing opened. 

“It’s about living in a community, and living as close to the environment as possible,” she said. 

“I think that those are two important values for my daughter to grow up in.

“A big part of the vision of Bend was that it is a total experiment – ecologically, socially - and it is important to keep that in mind.

“Everyone still has their fair share of privacy, and we have all respected that by making allowances for how each other lives.

“Everyone is pretty interested in making it work here.”

Michael Sharman has lived with his daughter Sierra and partner Peggy Storch in his owner-built house on about 900sqm of land for four years.  

“It’s been fantastic, [but] it’s a lot of work,” Mr Sharman said.

The benefits of living on the land according to Mr Sharman include environmental ones as “living here we are treading lightly,” and making financial savings through such aspects as the solar passive design of the houses, as well as not being connected to the town’s water or sewer.

“It’s been a lot nicer here,” Sierra said.

“All the other places I have lived in had lots of concrete and small backyards, but it’s just beautiful here.

“You can see nature and get involved in it, and walk to town in five minutes.”

The setting of Bend is a child’s dream, as they have lots of wide open spaces to play in, and the nearby anabranch of the Bega River forms a billabong for them to visit.

The children who live in Bend are between two and 16, and so there is always a friend around to play with.

“It’s what I always wanted for the kids,” resident Kate Benedyka said.

Everyone knows each other as the community is so close, so the social side of Bend is “fantastic” and is the best part of it according to Ms Benedyka.

Emily Brown has lived in Bend for three years, and she moved there as she heard that it was a good eco-friendly place.

“I love living at Bend and being surrounded by nice and friendly neighbours, and I like being able to walk to the shops,” she said.

Being at Bend can also be difficult at times, as Mr Sharman said “living in a community at times is challenging”.

“We all have different flaws and different personalities, which can be a bit hard,” Bend resident Jenny Spinks said. 

“But it all seems to be going alright.

“If you want to participate you just have to work a bit harder.”

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