“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
It’s hard to believe another Friday has rolled around, but here we are…
We’ve got the usual medley of interesting updates and upcoming events, featuring a parent’s excellent account of last week’s subak trek led by John Hardy and attended by many GS families (The lesson I take from this? Never turn down another JH invitation again!), and much, much more.
In this issue:
1. The Cave of the Virgins (aka Subak Adventure!)
2. Alan’s next sessions
3. Parent Education and Inspiration
4. Grade 11 Request for Sacred Childhoods Donations
5. Green Studies Update from Pak Noan
6. ecoBali Recycling
7. House points update from Pak Glenn
8. Grade 11 Green Enterprise Project from Rasa Milaknyte: Aikido Lessons!
9. GS Parents Facebook Page
10. Middle School Dance, May 25
11. Green Riders
12. Macbeth at Green School, Saturday and Sunday,26-27 May
13. Lost and Found Items at Welcome Desk
14. Green School Grandad on a Bike!
15. Links That Make Us Think
16. Our own weekly news
The Cave of the Virgins (aka Subak Adventure!)
GS parent David Facey sent us a copy of his blog post chronicling last weekend’s subak trip with John Hardy. It’s quite long but well worth the read! To see more of David’s musings on life in Bali, check out his blog: http://www.thefaceyfive.blogspot.com/
(Friends, I have been to the Cave of the Virgins and before I rest my head from this wonderfully tiring day, I must tell you of my triumphs. The journey was long and the challenges many; the treasured maidens enjoying every protection they deserved. But we braved these obstacles, and by day’s end the reward was ours: rejuvenation found.)
When you get an email inviting you on a hike leading to the Cave of the Virgins, it’s not one you ignore. In fact, there ought to be an app that would push such notes to the top of your inbox. I immediately accepted, and this morning set out early to join the expedition. John Hardy, one of the Founders of Green School had organized the day and we met at his house – a glorified treehouse of reclaimed teak bridging over koi ponds and catching the tropical breezes from the rice fields and the river valley below. As we fortified ourselves with spiced rice porridge John set the scene for the day. He explained that we would be going by road up the river to explore one of the many hundreds of water diversion systems that allowed this steeply sloped island to host its legendary rice fields. The virgins, it appeared, were a teaser. Just as well really…I had brought with me my dear cousin, Joanna, who had just flown in from South Africa less that 20 hours earlier.
We were to follow one of these canals down its gentle slope, leaving behind the river as it carved its brown-white path through the emerald green valley, dropping at a much faster rate. The purpose: to see the challenges faced as the system designers hundreds of years ago toiled to bring water from the raging river to the tranquil terraces nourishing their rice and the island’s very civilization. Along the way we also hoped to visit a local farm as it processed its recent rice harvest. In the plan was also a stop at the temple where the many spiritual matters related to the Subak (an apparent blend of diocese and irrigation district) were ceremoniously carried out. From there we would trek across terraces, ford the river and seek the cave housing those poor, lovely virgins.
As the group assembled and finished their coffees, we prepared to depart and soon followed the hand dug trench that led from the main house, through the rich volcanic earth to the garage, the early morning sun sifting through the palm leaves that covered over the trench to keep it from itself becoming a river in the heavy rains. In fact, to call it a garage gives the wrong image entirely… consider it more bike room, dog kennel, basketball court, coach house. All made of natural materials of course, with a canvass skylight giving the whole cavernous man-room a tent like glow. It was just outside that our transport truck awaited. Apparently John really wanted to create an authentic Bali experience, as we all piled in the back of what was essentially a small dump truck where we were to stand for the 30 minute drive. It was an amusing trip, and thanks to good companionship all warnings to duck as we passed low hanging branches were issued in good time and obeyed without hesitation (there was a slight language issue at one point, however, when us English speakers realized that for those just learning the language, “heads up” was not a useful instruction in these circumstances).
We arrived at our destination and descended on foot into the river valley, gathering at the water’s edge. Here were the civil works for the diversion of the water necessary for the rice fields of the Subak. From this point the intent was to follow the canal as it ran more or less parallel to the river, but allowing the river to fall relative to the canal as the latter maintained a much more level course. Following the canal proved a little dodgy and a river raft accompanied us in the main river to assist those who could not manage the hike.
Things got more interesting when the canal – a brick-walled, mud-bottomed trench calf to hip deep and two feet wide entered a tunnel. This was a co-ed trip, but it was certainly the testosterone that allowed us to take John at his word that no snakes occupied the canal or the tunnel, and in we went. Within moments the tunnel had taken enough of a turn to plunge us all in utter darkness. Palm fronds brushing our legs instantly lost their innocence. Chris, the school’s Managing Director, expressed some thinly disguised panic as he swatted off a bat that had been fluttering at his chest. One of the Balinese guides had the forethought to bring a flashlight, but could only illuminate one section of the tunnel at any one time. I snapped off a couple of photos, not so much to record the experience as to trigger the flash and gain at least that split second worth of visual data need to better navigate the tunnel and to gauge how much to duck to avoid the tunnel ceiling (and the bats). Another bend and suddenly light. Not the exit, but a place where a window allowed us to see that the tunnel was following a cliff face at that point. Odds were better continuing in the dark.
Soon there was a real break in the tunnel and an opportunity to get out. However, whether due to the vagueness of John’s description of the path around the next section of tunnel, or his assurance that it was only another 20 meters, most of us pressed on. “Pressed” is the operative word here, as the tunnel immediately narrowed to more of a hole and we were forced to our hands and knees. Some gave up and just swam it – a creepy slithering swim, really. And if John ever tells you there is only 20 meters to go – double it…at least.
And so it was that upon emerging from this tunnel, back into the light of day, we felt full of bravado and of life and ready for a cave full of virgins!
We first continued along the canal until we looked down 50 meters (real meters, not John meters) to the river below. And at that point we met the golden-green open expanse of the Subak rice fields. We witnessed where the hand-harvested rice was raked out in the sun to dry and where it was husked. We also saw how the brown layer of germ was removed from the white kernel and discarded in a heap of fine powder…one of the most protein and nutrient rich food sources available. But in the interests of food fashion and shelf life, the rice is polished free of this layer which is instead fed to the nearby pigs!
With full moon poised to rise over the island six hours hence, and with the harvest fresh, it was no surprise that the temple was prepared for ceremony when we arrived. The Head of the Subok was there and administered a blessing on all of us. We had not been told to bring a flashlight for the tunnels, but the message was clear that for the temple a sarong was required.
And still the call of the Cave of the Virgins rang out over the river valley. We set off through the tall rice and descended once again to the valley floor and reunited with the river. Two long bamboo poles had been bound together in what appeared to be fibre glass and placed across the river as a foot bridge. In fact, it served more as a round-edged spring board, bouncing in pronounced exaggeration of the footsteps upon it. One of our group fell out of rhythm with the bridge and was knocked off mid-span just as he tossed his i-Phone to another of us on the far bank. In fact, given our earlier adventures and then sweating under the hot tropical sun, a number of us decided that the virgins deserved better and we opted for a refreshing river swim before carrying on.
Up the far escarpment, we were then led to the Cave of the Virgins. It is common lore across the island that villages indeed hid their virgins in caves to shield them from invading foreigners. The cave was a suspended hole in a high rock wall, accessed now by an old ladder (not CSA approved, I can assure you). Just inside the entrance it was clear that a slot had been carved to once accept a door sliding across the entrance way. Very Indiana Jones. Again we entered the island’s depths, and again… bats. Later, John admitted that while he had known of this cave for 40 years, he had never before been in. “Are you claustrophobic?” someone asked. “No, just scared!” he replied. And it was a bit spooky, the initial shaft heading straight into the cliff for about 15 metres before branching out in two directions. There was little sign left of the virgins, I might point out. I hope that all worked out for them.
With that, we completed the hike at Bamboo Indus, the beautifully rustic hotel owned by John, and located immediately next door to his own home.
Overlooking this wonderful Subok and its magnificent rice fields, we refreshed in the hotel’s dark pool, the waters freshly filtered through volcanic stone and fresh as a Canadian mountain stream…just warmer.
Alan’s next sessions
Please join us next Tuesday and Wednesday (repeat), May at 3:30 PM as Alan discusses the Practical/Experiential Frame.
Meanwhile, we continue to post more of Alan’s presentation and materials at the following link: http://alan-corner.greenschool.org
Parent Education and Inspiration
Tuesday, May 15, 8:45 AM in Mepantigan (please note early start time)
Balinese Perspective on Conservation; Bali’s New Generation
Join GS parent Gove Depuy and friends for a talk on the background of conservation and the environmental movement in Indonesia, as well as a look at current trends. But first, Green School’s very own Captain FREAK, Asher Yaron, will speak briefly on his insights and discoveries regarding the pit of a certain red or purple fruit that is very close to his heart. You probably won’t need a double latte to get energized for this session, but on the other hand, it couldn’t hurt!
Grade 11 Request for Sacred Childhoods Donations
On Friday, June 8th, Grade 11 will be collecting donations for the Sacred Childhoods Foundation. A beautiful Sanctuary is currently being built for Balinese children who have been faced with extremely unfortunate conditions. This Sanctuary will provide the opportunity for the children to build their future in safe hands. As the children arrive we want the Green School community to warm their living conditions & their backs in the most comforting way.
Donations can include any of the following: Furniture, Toys, Clothes, Kitchen equipment, bedroom-bathroom-laundry materials, & school supplies.
Please help grade 11 and donate any used or new goods to help make the dreams of these children come true.
Also, make yourself familiar with the great work of this amazing NGO on the island: http://www.sacredchildhoods.org/
Please contact Ibu Brynn for any questions email@example.com
Green Studies Update from Pak Noan
When one looks at a rice field, it is hard to imagine the number of animals involved in the food chain surrounding rice. Since starting farmer field school, Matt and I have become more aware of the 20 different insects that make rice their home. Matt took the Grade 4 class out to the rice field to study the predator-prey relationships that exist out there. Along with the common pests (brown plant hopper, grasshopper, and white moth) there are a host of predators of these insects, mostly in the form of spiders. In the rice field, spiders really are the farmer’s best friend.
While the middle school students also look at rice in their curriculum, they have stepped back a little, getting a broader picture. I have been running a unit with the Grade 6 students about the Subak system, which interestingly coincided with John’s Subak tour. In the class, we have the discussed principles underlying a good irrigation system, and then went down to a site we found and started to build our own small model of it. Working as a class means that the project requires much cooperation and planning. I was delighted after starting the project last week, that a couple students remained after school to help with some repairs to the system. Before I knew it, there were a dozen students helping to build up our site, from Grade 5 to Grade 8. It was I who eventually gave up at 4:30, asking the students to head back to Heart of School and get home. To me, it bodes well when students stay voluntarily after school, and even join from other classes, to work on a project!
Green School attempts to maintain a closed waste cycle as much as possible, but for non-organic materials that we can’t dispose of through composting or feeding to the pigs, we work with a great local organization called ecoBali.
You can find out more about them at the link below or by checking out their website, http://www.eco-bali.com/
House points update from Pak Glenn
The race is tightening up as we head into the last quarter of school. While Air is still holding on to the lead, Water is coming on strong after dominating Gypsy Day and winning the grades 5-7 House basketball competition. Meanwhile, Earth pulled off a win in the grades 1-4 basketball tourney to claim a firm grip on 3rd place and well within striking distance of 1st. There is still time to turn it on Team Fire! Stay tuned for the High School basketball tourney coming soon.
1st Air 3,013
2nd Water 2,931
3rd Earth 2,857
4th Fire 2,769
Grade 11 Green Enterprise Project from Rasa Milaknyte: Aikido Lessons!
Hello, my name is Rasa. I’m a Grade 11 student. Currently Grade 11 students in their Green Enterprise subject are setting up their own businesses. My business is a service – I teach children from 5 to 12 years old aikido. Aikido is a Japanese martial art focused on defense.
Is your child is hyperactive? Can’t sit still and concentrate at school? Often gets sick or has health problems? Sign your child up for my class! The children will learn not just a martial art but discipline, coordination, and self-defense too. Your child will become more responsible and calm. His/her health will improve because of regular practice, and finally, as a parent you will have more free time. During Aikido lessons children will be wearing organic cotton t-shirts and shorts instead of thick, heavy traditional uniforms. Together we will be saving the environment. The classes will take place at Green School, so you won’t have to bring your child anywhere. The first lesson is for free! Just come, see and sign up your child today!
Lessons start on Monday, May 14, from 3:30 – 4:30 open to ages 5-12. Meet next to the Kindergarten classroom. Bring comfortable shorts and a t-shirt that your child can easily move in. They will be bare foot.
If you want any further information, please check out this website http://aikidoings.weebly.com/ or call me at this number 081246774256.
GS Parents Facebook Page
GS parent Janet Nicol has started a Green School parents FB page that now has over 60 members.
To join, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or look for us on Facebook.
Middle School Dance, May 25
It’s time to get together with all of our Middle School peers and have fun! The Middle School Student Council has been working hard on a middle school student dance! Join us in the Mepantigan on May 25th.
All of our friends will be arriving at 5:30. Then at around 6:00 we will be having a potluck picnic dinner at twilight on the field. Please bring some food that we can share. The dancing will start as it’s getting dark, about 7-ish. Let us know what you think about the theme for the night by voting disco or formal! Drop your vote at the Bamboo Post drop box at the Green Warung. We can’t wait to see everyone dancing!
We got this message a few days ago from Kenny Peavy, a good friend of Green School an a leading environmental educator. Read more to find out about a great project for a great cause:
From June – August 2012 Jamie Raskin & Kenny Peavy will be riding bicycles from Thailand to Bali!
Our aim is to raise awareness and inspire action for conservation and social responsibility in South East Asia.
We can’t do it alone. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT IN MANY WAYS!
The GREEN Riders promotional video can be found here:
Our Facebook can also be found here..
PLEASE help us spread the word by LIKING, SHARING and POSTING to your network of friends!
In the future, we will send out more specific information on how to support GREEN Riders, become part of the GREEN Riders network, sponsor GREEN Riders or even join us for part of the ride!!
I have also attached our generic introduction letter. More info can be found at our website.
In the meantime, check out the GREEN Riders website, Facebook and follow us on TWITTER (info on that can be found ont he website above) and SPREAD THE WORD
Please let us know if you have a need for more information or would like to be part of GREEN Riders by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com
WE ARE EXTREMELY EXCITED about the trip and working with you all over the upcoming months to make GREEN Riders a reality!
Macbeth at Green School, Saturday and Sunday,26-27 May
As most of you will know from reading the newsletter regularly, rehearsals for Macbeth have been taking place here for the last few months. The performances will take place starting in two weeks. Please see schedule below and spread the word among your friends and neighbors. This is a high energy production of Shakespeare’s shortest and bloodiest play! Please note that there will be a special free Friday matinee on May 25 for Green School students and staff at 11:00 AM, but parents are kindly requested to attend the weekend performances.
Theatre Firefly proudly presents its latest production, The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare at Green School’s Mepantigan. Two days only: Saturday 26 and Sunday 27. Don’t miss out on this dynamic production featuring demonically possessed Witches, an Amazon Macbeth and fights to the death for the fate of the human soul!
Lost and Found Items at Welcome Desk
Green School Grandad on a Bike!
Green School’s own Nikki Macfarlane was inspired by last week’s newsletter piece on the young Frenchman hitchhiking around the world to send us this story about her father Ron, whom many of you have probably met here in Bali. He’s embarked upon a very interesting and ambitious adventure of his own, as follows:
I don’t know if you are interested but thought it might be fun to post something in the next newsletter about Ally and Erinn’s granddad (my dad). He is 68 years old and is currently riding from Australia (he flew to Kathmandu) to Belgium overland on his old 1910 FN motorcycle. The bike originally came from Belgium – he was given a frame years ago when we lived in NZ and he has completely rebuilt the bike to its original condition, which has taken years. He aims to get to Belgium and visit the factory where it was made over 100 years ago.
At the moment he is in Iran – he has travelled from Nepal, down to India, then up to Pakistan and then through the mountain ranges to Iran. The mountains are a challenge as the bike struggles going uphill and he has to help with pedal power. Next he travels into Turkey then on to Europe. So far he has been traveling for 4 months. My mum met him in India and they travelled together for a bit, now she has flown to Iran and meets up with him tomorrow.
He has a blog that has regular updates and information on the bike and his travels – www.oldblokeonabike.com.
Everything so far has gone pretty smoothly – a few problems with having to manage to find replacements for blown tires and broken spokes – but everyone has been incredibly generous and hospitable. Sadly yesterday he set up his tent and while he was away from it for a short time the tent was slashed and his clothes, the solar charger for his phone, and his panniers that carry everything were stolen. Hopefully this doesn’t happen again!
Links That Make Us Think
Pak Glenn sent us this blog post by an American high school student (yes, high school!) who bemoans the ways in which traditional educational models drain creativity from students, and calls for a learning revolution. Sounds like he needs to come see Green School and meet Pak Alan!
Our own weekly news
To submit your own news updates for inclusion, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon each Wednesday.We cannot always guarantee inclusion and we may have to delay for a week at times.
Visit the Green School Website: http://www.greenschool.org
Visit the Green School Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/greenschool