International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

In conversation with…. John Hardy


In conversation with…. John Hardy

John Hardy, TED talk speaker and founder of the Green School in Bali, was a key speaker at the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress 2018. INBAR spoke to Mr. Hardy about a return to more natural living.

What is it about bamboo that inspires you so much?

You know, my wife and I were planning to retire when we moved to Bali, but then I was introduced to Al Gore. Al Gore ruined my retirement. We started to think about climate change, and about our responsibility to our grandchildren. So we decided to build Green School. It doesn’t look like a school… it’s like no other school on the planet.

Bamboo is the only material we can actually promise everbody. We can promise everybody an extra house with bamboo! All we have to do is plant it. It grows almost everywhere. Every shooting season I stand in the garden in Bali, and I wonder how could it be that in three years, this plant in my garden will become timber for me to build another building.

Ten per cent of Green School children are local kids on scholarships, and we have 350 local kids taking part in after-school programmes. They’re changing those villages. Every child knows how to plant harvest and cook rice. They know where their food comes from; they know how to make compost.

Learning time for students in the Green School with bamboo. Photo credit: I Nyoman Widiantara, via Flickr

A big feature of Green School is its natural design – you don’t use engineered bamboo. What is your vision for how bamboo houses should look?

If engineered products were created by people who had a sense of beauty and awe, they would be better. Sure, housing has to be safe, but it can also be beautiful. It takes the same amount of material to make beauty as it does to make ugly – why are we choosing ugly? There’s no reason to build a bunker. Live on the land, enjoy on the land.

Bamboo is fun. Some people are fascinated by industrial bamboo products – we are fascinated by what we can do with bamboo without an industry, with the hands of Balinese artisans.

Tell us a little about how your school inspires people.

Our inspiration factor is amazing. There are hundreds of buildings going up around the world using bamboo because they saw what we did. As for the children – some kids come to Green School that are in deep trouble. They all of a sudden just explode into happiness and creativity and power. It’s incredible to see.

Bamboo deserves to be more than panda food; it deserves to be big, beautiful, incredible buildings too. I believe bamboo is the future – it’s time for bamboo.

Based on an interview with John Hardy on Wednesday 27 June and parts of his speech during the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress.

Read on…

INBAR Director General Hans Friederich (left) being presented with a varnished bamboo culm from John Hardy’s (right) local bamboo forest in Bali, at the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress hosted in June 2018.