for The New York TImes on Jan. 14, 2011
SIBANG KAJA, BALI — Half a world away from Cancún, Mexico, and the international climate change talks that took place there last month, a school here in Indonesia is staging its own attempt to save the planet.
In the midst of the lush, steaming jungle of Bali, along a pitted road, past scattered chickens and singing cicadas, Green School has two dozen buildings made of giant bamboo poles. There are no walls, and there is no air-conditioning. Just gracefully arched roofs, concrete floors and bamboo furniture. There is a big, grassy playground, complete with goalposts made — yes — of bamboo; a bamboo bridge across a rock-strewn river; vegetable patches; and a mud-wrestling pit.
But there is also a computer lab, a well-stocked library and an array of courses drawn from an internationally recognized curriculum and taught in English.
More than 200 children from 40 countries, including Indonesia, are learning math here, as well as grammar, science, business studies, drama and Bahasa Indonesia, the official language spoken in this country of 240 million.
The students, whose levels range from kindergarten to 10th grade and who represent 40 nationalities, are also learning to grow and thresh rice and how to make ceramics and paper from materials found on the school site.
They get dirt under their fingernails and mud between their toes. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes. High heels are not recommended.
If all this sounds a little bit hippie and idealistic, that is because it is. A little.
But then, Green School, the brainchild of John Hardy and his wife, Cynthia, is also realistic and practical, designed to give children not just a sense of how to live sustainably, but also to leave them ultimately with the skills to enter academic institutions anywhere in the world.
“We want to create future green leaders — we need green leaders,” said a sarong-clad Mr. Hardy, picking his way along a dirt path last month. “We want to teach kids that the world is not indestructible.”
Mr. Hardy himself — sarong notwithstanding — is no mere dropout, tree-hugging beach bum.
True, he says, he “ran away” from his home in Canada in 1975, to go to Bali. But he is also an entrepreneur, and the upmarket jewelry business he and his wife built over the years was worth enough, by the time they sold it in 2007, to allow the Hardys to set up the Green School.
The original idea had been to retire quietly. But then Mr. Hardy saw “An Inconvenient Truth,” the 2006 documentary about the campaign by Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president, to educate people about climate change.
“Al Gore ruined my life,” Mr. Hardy, who is now 61, likes to say.
To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/business/energy-environment/03iht-green.html?ex=1309928400&en=a6873b78ebf923a1&ei=5087&WT.mc_id=BU-D-I-NYT-MOD-MOD-M183b-ROS-0111-L2&WT.mc_ev=click