My husband was not impressed and held a skeptical view, but I’m an easy-to-please fan and it’s been my dream since watching John and Elora Hardy’s TED Talks. My husband may not share my appreciation of the Green School, but my friend, Donna who has the same dream would. Another friend of mine who has not gone there before was also doubtful when I told her that there was a substantial amount to be paid to tour the school, bamboo factory and Green Village, but then the money raised from tours went to sponsoring local children who can’t afford the tuition fee of the pricey international school.
Despite my husband’s discouragement, it was the architect in me who insisted on seeing the Green Village and the education researcher in me who asserted to bring the family to the Green School. We had a bit of a night adventure going there since it was an hour away from where the hotels are. I thought we’d be able to find accommodation nearby but the one available was at the Green Village with an astronomical price tag only the super rich can afford and the Green Villas which was fully booked. We were fortunate that kind souls led us to Made, a common Balinese name pronounced ma-de, not maid. Apparently, his house near the Green Village is a listed AirBnb. For the past two years, architects, designers, teachers and parents the world over have made their way to his home, welcomed warmly by Made and his family. The people who found their path to Made’s doorsteps were pilgrims like me: architects and engineers who wanted to study the amazing bamboo structures, teachers who wanted to learn from the Green School and parents who were hoping to send their children to the well-known, ecologically innovative school. During the tour, I met a fellow Filipina who wanted to apply there as a teacher.
I don’t know how people cannot be impressed by what we saw but I guess like in everything else, I have to respect people’s opinion and views no matter how different they are from mine. Perhaps it’s a form of sour grapes, or maybe they see the hypocrisy in the overriding elitist world order of things despite parallel actions reaching out to the local community, or maybe it’s not just their kind of thing but somebody else dragged them there.
The Green School runs a number of programs linking the school to the humble community outside the fantastic, almost mythical world inside. Trash for class lets local children study English for a whole semester in exchange for 5 kilos of trash. The middle school students built a bridge together with local engineers that connected two parts of the town, previously inconvenient for villagers to pass. The school transforms used cooking oil into bio-diesel and produce bio-soap from the excess glycerin. The nursery and aquaponic areas are roof tiled with windshields from junk cars. They recycle trash, generate electricity from the river, use waterless toilets, compost waste, grow organic vegetables and do just about anything you can imagine eco warriors would do.
They have a maximum of 25 students for each class with three teachers – one international, one local and one assistant. There is a dedicated area where parents can relax, do their work, meet and organize activities. The kids can wrestle in the mud or create whatever they want in the Ruang Mimpi or Dream Space.
After visiting school, our group headed for the bamboo factory where photos were not allowed to be taken. Pictures were okay in the school as long as they didn’t include the students’ faces while in the Green Village, we could take all the photos we want of the unoccupied villas which are usually 80% full. Seeing how restless Joshua and Jimmy were in the factory, I thought I should not have gotten that part of the tour which was quite educational, but then Joshua told me he found it interesting how the bamboo floor slats were put together by threading a long bamboo nail through the drilled holes.
The Green Villa is a feast for the eyes, designed by somebody who obviously revels in her wildly crazy, creative, genius mind and crafted meticulously by precise, patient, loving hands. The Green School was founded by John Hardy who wanted to create a magical school and accomplished just that. His daughter, Elora Hardy continued in the same vein but branched out on her own unique pioneering path producing one-of-kind luxury homes in bamboo. Imagine taking a piss inside a giant basket or a having a TV room with woven walls to partially block off the light. Circular bamboo-framed glass doors pivot. There is joy in every joinery.
I asked the tour guide who were the superstars who have stayed in the villas and he said they weren’t allowed to take photos of or with the guests but he couldn’t help asking Vin Diesel whether he drove through Bali’s curvaceous mountain roads by drifting.
Before going to Bali, I studiously pored over loads of AirBnb options, tried to convince Jason to book but his decision prevailed to choose accommodation once we arrived. It was plain luck and serendipity that we eventually ended up in Made’s Airbnb listed place and it was an experience to treasure just like our stay at worldschooler Rony’s. One person who stayed with Made for six months filled the guest room door with tiny flashcards for learning the Balinese language. Others left sweet little thank you notes and photos of Made with the foreign visitors so staying there, you felt part of a worldwide network sharing a not-so-secret secret.