I live in a traditional American home.
My house, which was built when I was around 13, is primarily made of wood. Wood framework, wood floors, wood moldings, wood doors.
We have air conditioning and heat (mandatory—at least the latter is—in the extreme winter climate of the midwest). And though we try to conserve water, recycle and use energy efficient light bulbs among other things, in the grand scheme of things, my family and I are leaving a pretty hearty footprint on poor old mother earth.
The other night, scrolling through Facebook while sitting at my painfully rectangular, wood composite desk from IKEA, I happened upon a TED talk with Elora Hardy that opened my eyes to something different.
Elora Hardy, daughter of John Hardy—a famous jewelry designer—gave up her job as a top designer with Donna Karan to move back home to Bali and expand on her father’s late life passion: Green School, with her contribution of Green Village, a very special community surrounding the school, and Ibuku, the company she founded to help create it.
Green School is a extraordinarily progressive school for K through 12th grade developed as a radical model for what should be modern education—and the buildings of the school themselves are all constructed from one magical material: bamboo, as are the buildings for Green Village.
Not only is bamboo renewable and locally sourced, the plants—or more accurately, grasses—reach full maturity in three years and when harvested the roots are left in tact, so they can re-grow.
The builders of Green School and Green Village are all local artisans and crafts people and the strong-as-steel, fantastical and elegant buildings they are putting together with the Hardy family look—to me—like a herd of joyous spirit elephants dancing through the jungle trees.
As I watched Elora talk about the concept of Green School and Green Village and saw the pictures on the giant screen behind her of the most gorgeous, organic, fantastical yet home-y and comforting architecture I’ve never seen, I felt an overwhelming reaction—not in my mind, but in my heart.
My actual, physical heart hurt with wanting—wanting to live inside rounded shapes with optional walls. Wanting to curl up in a bamboo cocoon with my son and whisper to him about the importance of living lightly as we watch a gecko skitter by. Wanting to be a part of this revolutionary, yet ancient and organic way of thinking, of living.
It is unlikely that I will ever live in a grass cathedral with spiral roofs shaped like an enormous nautilus, but knowing that someone does seems important to me. And it inspires me to try and re-think some things here in my real home.
What can I do to be more green?
How can I incorporate more poetry and nature and joy into my surroundings?
What undiscovered (by me) local artisans and crafts people can I develop relationships with and help support?
How can I better teach my son to—literally—think outside the box?
The first small step I made the moment that TED video wrapped up was to contact Green School and offer to volunteer there as a writing or yoga instructor or a Reiki practitioner. It would only be short term, but I would be honored to contribute a part of my spirit to this noble enterprise.
To find out more about Green School and maybe offer your support as well, click here.
Here’s to dreaming, and grass castles, and people like the Hardy family who dare to see things and do things others are afraid to try.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: YouTube Still