The Joy of Living Green
On a recent visit to San Diego, Canadian-born John Hardy emerges from his hotel room wearing the traditional Balinese kamben sarung while his wife, Cynthia, dons a simple linen dress that compliments her long blond California hair. On first appearances it would be a mistake to marry this natural style with the melodies of the Beach Boys because for 20+ years Cynthia and John have been living and working in Bali, dedicated to its people, culture, and environment. In return Bali has generated a couple who exemplify joie de vivre, the joy of living.
Last July the couple released the news that they had sold their multimillion-dollar-a-year Bali-based global jewelry company, John Hardy, in a management buyout. This included their Three Mountains Factory and Kapal Bambu or “bamboo boat” showroom, all low-impact structures built from bamboo. Today, their sustainable practices include an organic farm that feeds the 800 daily workers from their natural kitchen.
John also founded Bambu Bali, dedicated to cultivating and manipulating bamboo for a wide range of uses. Commenting on the buyout, John says, “I will now be able to do what I do best, which is to focus on environmental leadership, preservation of local culture and traditions, and social responsibility.” With a vision for a different world and a mission to make a paradigm shift in education, the couple arrived in S.D. to promote their Bali dream — Green School, an eight-hectare nonprofit campus, and model in sustainable living and holistic education, which opened in September.
Project Concern International, a global nonprofit organization based here, recently honored the cultural ambassadors for their commitment to lasting positive change in sustainable development and education. “We want children to cultivate physical sensibilities that will enable them to adapt and be capable in the world. We want children to develop spiritual awareness and emotional intuition, and to encourage them to be in awe of life’s possibilities,” says Cynthia.
The Green School was born in Sibang Kaja in 2006. The completed futuristic structure looks like a sculpture with grass thatched roofs and bamboo spires. Classrooms utilize the teaching principles of the Steiner Waldorf School, an educational philosophy that emphasizes imagination and integrates practical, artistic, and intellectual elements coordinated with the natural rhythms of everyday life. The Hardys also include the principles of educationalist Alan Wagstaff, who believes children should open themselves on all cylinders: spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual.
“The aim of our Green School is to empower students to be leaders of the 21st century so they can help reverse the damage to the environment,” says John. Cynthia agrees, noting that open-sided bamboo buildings are perfect for indoor-outdoor learning such as animal husbandry, farming, and planting seeds in the rice fields. “Twenty percent of school places will be offered to Balinese pupils on scholarships,” she explains.
The couple hopes to encourage parents from all over the world to expose their children to this form of education. “Those who have a true interest in the environment and sustainability will realize that we are looking to the next generation to save our world,” concludes Cynthia. (www.greenschool.org) INGRID HOFFMEISTER