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Green School sustains pupil's interest

From Andrew Stevens, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Green School was set up by retired businessman John Hardy
  • The school teaches children the value of the environment as part of a traditional curriculum
  • Hardy seeks to provide children with an holistic education with sustainability at its core

Bali, Indonesia (CNN) -- Learning Shakespeare under a thatched roof in a building made almost entirely from bamboo. The Green School in Bali, Indonesia, is like no other.

The idea came to its founder John Hardy after his wife took him to see the Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

Hardy -- who retired from running a successful jewelry business in 2007 -- was horrified by what he saw on screen and how climate change might affect his four children. So, he resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to do whatever he could to make their lot better, he says.

At the Green School, students from nursery to eighth grade get, what Hardy calls, "a holistic education" -- well rounded, with a special emphasis on the environment.

"The whole idea of sustainability and holism, which this school is based on, is that you don't dig everything up and spend it...and live inside your environmental means..." Hardy says.

Bali's 'green' seat of learning
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His goal is to decrease the school's carbon footprint even further, which means growing organic vegetables in the garden and using waste from livestock and turning it into biogas for cooking.

Power is generated with the use of this hydroelectric vortex, and soon solar panels will be installed, taking the school completely off the grid.

But Hardy isn't without his critics.

The Green School is an international school that charges steep fees (from nearly $6,000 to almost $13,000 per annum). Most of its students are foreigners with Indonesians making up only 20% of the intake, and most of them are on scholarships.

"We haven't been entirely successful at getting local parents, with means, to send their children to come to the Green School".

Still, the school is expanding. When it opened in 2008 it had 98 children. This year they expect 300 students to enroll.

Hardy's vision has grown since he first saw Al Gore's movie. He says the Green School is just the anchor for what he hopes will become a truly green community.

Just over half a mile from the school Hardy is creating the Green Village.

"Having to put kids in cars or public transport every morning is silly," he said, "so the kids from the Green Village -- it is 900 meters from the school - will be able to walk through the Balinese fields to the school."

Helping Hardy develop this unique housing enclave is his 30-year-old daughter Elora. She gave up a high profile graphic designer job in New York and put her skills to work in Bali.

Like the Green School, these houses are made mostly from bamboo.

"From a resource point of view, bamboo is incredibly green," Elora Hardy said, "and I think that the spaces we're making have the effect when people go inside of feeling connected to nature."

Some of these homes cost up to half a million dollars and most are owned by wealthy families whose children go to the school, trading their city lives for greener lifestyles.

Hardy takes much pride from his daughter's choice to join him in what he describes as an amazing journey.

"We really have to develop into a sustainable system and a sustainable place, so that the grandchildren can go: 'ok we were headed to the abyss but Dad, Mom and Grandpa put the brakes on. Now...things are looking good.'"

 
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