Affordable Eco-Housing Forum – Summary


11 September 2011, Byron Region Community College, Mullumbimby 2-4pm

Organised by the Housing Group, Transition Byron Shire

Facilitated by Sustainable Futures Australia

Thank you to everyone who attended the SASHTA forum  on Sunday 11 Sept in Mullumbimby (and thanks for the many apologies from those who couldn’t make it at that time).  Here is a report on the forum for those who missed it, with some added follow-up information for those of you who attended, along with our plans for the next steps ahead.
Also see attachment for questions that came up and further steps.The forum was a great success with about 60 people attending – including the mayor Jan Barham, deputy mayor Basil Cameron, Councilor Simon Richardson and solicitor Wroth Wall (who is a local expert on collective land ownership and has been our pro bono legal consultant since the steering committee’s conception).  Both Jan Barham and Wroth Wall were also on our panel alongside our steering committee members Gabi, Annie, Tracey and Eva, and our two brilliant facilitators Peter Cuming and Eshana Bragg from ‘Sustainable Futures Australia’.
We would especially like to thank Peter and Eshana who did a superb job of keeping the forum on track throughout its entirety, introducing all the speakers and contributors, chairing the panel and question and answer times, and keeping track of all the suggestions and information that was being shared.
We also had a number of side stalls on hand displaying various forms of sustainable buildings such as domes ( , yurts (, recycled shipping containers ( and hemp blocks (Klara Marosszeky,, as well as information from local company E-Construct.

Solicitor Wroth Wall also presented his findings after having examined the set-up of the German tenant syndicate and the possibility of us being able to join this existing tenant alliance. Wroth is also very familiar with the Community Land Trust model which exists in America and long term leases. Wroth’s finding was that it would be best off to form our own tenant alliance here in Australia and only be affiliated with the German group due to the different property and financial laws. He is fully supportive of the idea of approaching Council for a long term lease of at least one of their empty properties in order to make affordable housing possible.After the SASHTA – (Sustainble Affordable Secure Housing Tenant Alliance) – concept was explained, the mayor reported on the ‘Byron Shire Affordable Housing strategy’.  This strategy states that Council would consider a partnership with a community developer, which potentially could be SASHTA. The mayor, deputy mayor and Simon Richardson all encouraged our approach.A major part of our concept is to plan an eco affordable housing village from the ‘bottom-up’ with residents all known to each other beforehand.  So with this in mind we distributed a hard copy of our Survey form at the forum to everyone interested, which questions interested parties about their own housing needs and personal interests, how much they would like to be involved in the planning process from the start, what kind of model they prefer, what kind of cottage industry or business they might like to run or be a part of as part of a village, what kind of skills they can bring to the project, and where they stand financially at present.

A large number of attendees filled out the Survey on the day of the forum.  However, now that we have it loaded onto the website, we encourage all those who haven’t filled it in yet  to do so on-line on by the end of October.  Thanks in advance for your participation.As this first forum was a way of testing the waters to see how many people are actually interested in the SASHTA concept, we were happy to find that virtually everybody who attended expressed their active interest in some way. This was confirmation for us to take some more steps forward with actions such as:

* Expanding our steering committee: Some additional people have come forward expressing interest in joining the committee, however more would be better. Let us know.
* Getting incorporated as a ‘not-for-profit’ incorporated association: We need 7 positions filled in order to do this. Anyone volunteering?
* Collating and writing a report on our findings from the Survey: We have already found some volunteers to do this for us.
* Researching funding options to cover the costs of coordinating the project and facilitating the community planning process. Anyone interested?
* Other suggestions? – Please let us know. – Thanks.
* Organizing our next forum: Maybe at the end of November or beginning December?

On the website you’ll also find the SASHTA project description in case anything’s not totally  clear. If you’d like to participate please fill in the survey.

Thank you very much for your interest and participation.Warmest regards,
Eva, Tracey, Anny and Gabi
The SASHTA Committee

Notes from Whiteboards

Questions posed to SASHTA Panel following presentations by Gabi Bohnet and Jan Barham

1. Were the barracks renovated in Germany bought by the tenants alliance? Yes

2. Is there any opportunity of using existing empty units above shops for a SASHTA project?

3. Given the limited number of Council owned sites suitable for affordable housing, would Council be open to the possibility of new multiple occupancies in other locations?

4. How are people selected to participate in a SASHTA project? Need to develop criteria and transparent process, ensure wide diversity, survey could help with this process

5. What structures could be put in place to enable personal investments to be returned? (eg., loans to alliance above rent)

6. How could this work in with existing housing ‘providers’? Need to develop partnerships with Council and other organisations (eg., community housing, low income not-for-profit)

7. How could we develop an ‘umbrella’ organisation with many projects? SASHTA does not have the capacity at the moment to develop this, however we are happy to be part of a wider network of housing providers and projects and like the idea of ‘cross-fertilizing’

8. If people in the community have rural land adjacent to services, how can they offer it as a potential site for a SASHTA project? The land could be leased long term to us or we might join the Waratah community land trust which is currently established in NSW to establish affordable housing. Land can be donated or bequeathed to this trust.

9. What relevant examples are currently occurring in Byron Shire?


Where to from here? Suggestions and Questions


1. Another forum in 2-3 months for update

2. People need to join the steering committee / working group if things are to progress further

– current tasks include seeking funding / grant opportunities; help analyzing survey

3. How do we stay in contact?

– blog/discussions on

– emails to

4. Encourage others to fill out survey online by end of September

5. Form smaller working groups based on results of survey

6. Link in with Lismore Housing Forum on 19th September (talk with Margaret)

7. Create a collection point – online or offline – for gathering information and materials (then create packages for showing to other people)

8. Start dialogue with Council now about new technologies in building materials (Council regulations lag behind).

9. Explore possibilities and forms of partnerships with other organisations (eg., with Sustainability Research Institute for one project)

10. Keep Councillors, not only Council staff, in the loop.

11. Consider education and training opportunities that could be associated with SASHTA (eg., building techniques)

12. Investigate Crown Land and rural land as potential SASHTA sites.

11. Prior to next forum, SASHTA needs to:

– define/propose a short-list of alternative structures for SASHTA

– develop/propose a clear definition of ‘sustainable’ housing, eg.,

– inclusion of food-growing as part of design

– bioregional sources of raw materials for building

– on-site opportunities for income generation, education and research

– protecting the land / biodiversity / environment / natural capital

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