When Canadian John Hardy landed in Bali in 1975, as a travelling art student, little did he imagine that more than 30 years on he would be still living there and running a cutting edge school. The Green School was set up after Hardy and his American wife Cynthia — who, like Hardy had come to Bali decades earlier — were inspired by the concept of an educational village community. It opened its door with 100 students in 2008.
Located in the countryside about 20 minutes from Balinese capital Denpasar, The Green School has since grown significantly and offers a curriculum spanning pre-school to upper secondary. Its approach to learning is very much hands on and experiential, with a strong focus on the creative arts and green studies, and it runs its own farm based on bio-intensive gardening methods – an effective and sustainable solution for growing food. The school’s ethos is clear: to deliver students for whom being green and socially conscious is so naturally part for their formation that they are empowered to take responsibility for the environment and society.
John, why did you decide to settle in Bali?
Bali is the world of the Balinese, who are probably the friendliest people on the planet.
What is the most rewarding thing for you about The Green School so far?
Happy children are really the only and biggest reward, there’s a lot of good research to show that if you’re happy things happen more easily. I think Green School is primarily happy, and an unhappy face at Green School sticks out the same way a happy one does on the normal urban street.
Where do your students come from and what are they doing in Bali?
Our students are diverse group of people from about 80 different countries and many different backgrounds. For instance, we have two students from a farming family, where the father became a lawyer but wanted his children to be close to the earth. As we’re heading toward globalized world, Green School children are certainly going to be ahead in terms of being able to cross social, economic and racial boundaries.
How often have you been to Singapore? And why do you come here?
I often go to Singapore when I need healthcare. It certainly is the medical centre of the region. It’s also a good place to have roti prata or Peking duck! It’s nice to have Singapore so close, because it has services that are simply not available in many places in the region.
What would you say is ‘green’ about Singapore?
Singapore has probably the biggest green potential than anywhere in the world, all it needs is for its people to decide to be green.
How could a regular school in Singapore become more green?
It would be really great if Singapore schools started growing food. It just takes a little compost and a recycled tire planter and some seeds. Organic food should become part of the Singapore school children’s consciousness.
You mentioned you like the roti prata here.
The one I miss about Singapore is that. It’s very hard to get up in the morning in Singapore without roti prata; there’s something magical about it. Aside from that, Singapore probably has the most good restaurants of any city in the world and it would be hard to choose my favourites. Certainly a Peking Duck should be enjoyed once in a while.
The Apple store in the Wheelock Place (EPI Center Orchard). I go there every time I visit Singapore.
Tell us about your last visit here.
Last time I went to Singapore I spoke at QI Global (www.qi-global.com), a summit about sustainable innovation and social enterprise that is organized out of Singapore. This is something that really is unique for Singapore. I was energized, informed and intrigued by seeing people from around the region attending this event.
When you wake up on a Sunday morning, you like to ...
Get in the truck with some friends and drive way up into the mountains and ride bicycles. Finding trails, back tracks and new tracks is probably my favorite thing to do in Bali.
It Takes a Village
On the tourist island of Bali is a very special school — The Green School. Innovative and yet so simple, this school seeks to form young eco-conscious minds who will be the future of our planet. Meet John Hardy, the man with the vision behind this one-of-a-kind school. .
This article was first published in The Republic