Jewelry maker John Hardy’s wife dragged him to a movie he didn’t want to see: An Inconvenient Truth, the film documenting Al Gore’s campaign against global warming. “It ruined my life,” says Hardy.
“I have four kids. Even if part of what Mr. Gore says is true, they’re not going to have the life that I had.” (See Green Prophet on Al Gore’s campaign here.) ” I decided at that time that I would spend the rest of my life doing what I could do improve their possibilities.”
Hardy and his wife, Cynthia are North American ex-pats who met, married, and raised their family on Bali. When they retired, they decided to give back to the community. They built an eco-school where children from kindergarten age through high school learn how to live in sustainability with the environment and each other. (We reported on a Middle-Eastern eco-school here).
The Hardy’s philosophy is simple.
“We practice whole-ism. If this little girl graduates as a whole person, she’ll grow up to demand a whole world.”
The children get their environmental studies by learning to build with bamboo. Planting, harvesting, and cooking rice, they learn where food comes from and how to grow it. They study music and the plastic arts. But is it all ancient Balinese arts and cooking traditional foods…or pizza?
No, the children, from kindergarten through high school ages, study a conventional curriculum that educates them for college, if they chose to go. The classes are small, with a low student to teacher ratio. Kids with learning disabilities study and thrive there. Having endured conventional schooling as a dyslexic child himself, Hardy calls them “pro-lexic.”
“(The children)…know they can control their world,” says Hardy.
The school building itself is an architectural marvel; possibly the world’s largest free-standing bamboo structure. Built in two spirals, it took local carpenters only three months to build, by hand.
The classrooms have no walls; the breeze passes through them. When it rains, the staff and children cover the roof with a bubble made from bamboo and natural rubber.
Intending to go off the grid, the school already uses energy generated from solar panels and two water vortexes that generate 8,000 watts of electricity day and night. Compost toilets are standard. The very pavements are made of hand-laid volcanic rock – no asphalt and petrochemicals.
These green efforts are influencing the Balinese community at large. The bamboo-based school is a model for new green houses being built close by. Of the 160 students, at least 20% are local children on scholarships.
Hardy believes that the international mix of students bodes well for a healthy future.
“Green School is a place of pioneers, local and global. When I see them together, I know that they’re working out how to live in the future.
“Is this doable in your community? We believe it is. Green School is a model we built for the world. Be local, let the environment lead, and think about how your grandchildren might build.”
Photos of the Green School and kids via Green School
:: Green School
More about environmental education from Green Prophet:
- Bahrain University Students Exhibit Eco-Friendly Inventions
- Ecoventure “Lab” Gives Emirate Children Hands-On Experience
- MBA Program in Sustainable Management, San Francisco
Miriam Kresh also writes a food blog.