I’m excited to be going back to school. Although, at Green School Bali, we are going forward to school. It’s with so much excitement that we are starting a new school year – and that excitement is exponential when I think of everyone coming forward to our epic nature-based campus.
Some of my best friends are places and Green School Bali is one of those places. This blog is not about my connection with the beautiful jungle-campus, community, and general vibe that is the magical Green School. But I remember the first time I came to campus, it was a ‘love at first sight’ moment.
Humans have awesome friend-making potential. Our ability to empathize, to care, to communicate in different ways, and to connect, opens the door to one of the coolest things in life… friendship. My best friends make me laugh, support me when I’m down, they challenge me – when I’m with them, I’m my best me. But not all my best friends are people; some of them are places.
The way I see it is simple: I’m a living organism, made up of different levels of energy. And I move through a living and non-living world full of energy. My energy defines every awake and sleeping moment – it curates my thoughts, actions, health and relationships. Just as I connect with certain people, I also feel strongly connected to certain places. Call it ‘energy’, ‘feelings’, ‘love’ – we all have special places in our lives.
My childhood farm – when I go there I’m automatically ‘home’ regardless of all the other homes I’ve had. Being in the bowl that is the Annapurna Base Camp – that was a quick but powerful friendship. A quiet beach I lived on for two months in south India – I actually cried when I said goodbye to that place. On the ocean, far away from land – that instant friendship amazed this little ‘boy from the bush’. There’s Redwood forests, farmhouse verandahs, a big ‘Magic Far-Away’ tree, sandy deserts, chaotic old cities, roads through jungles … so many friendships with places that have changed my life.
I have chosen to be mindful of my special places on this beautiful rock in space – to actively notice and respect, learn with and from, help to make better – not because these places are separate to me, but because they are part of me.
What I’m talking about here is called ‘Place Attachment’ – research shows that the benefits of being friends with physical spaces include: positive memories, sense of belonging, relaxation, positive emotions, activity support, comfort-security, personal growth, freedom, entertainment, connection to nature, privacy, and aesthetics. Somehow, those benefits don’t fully describe how I feel about my special places.
There’s nothing like that feeling of ‘being home’ – it’s a pity to limit it to one place. In education, a massive part of the learning experience is the learning spaces we create for our students. At Green School Bali, with our beautiful wall-less bamboo classrooms nestled into the gardens and jungle, we are able to create learning spaces that connect us to our environment. Across the school our aim is for our students to become friends with their learning spaces and with the natural environment.
I wonder how many of us warm-glow reminisce about the schools we went to? I don’t. I was lucky to enjoy my formal education – but it had nothing to do with the sterile cement buildings and add-on gardens. People all around the world trudge to school (or work every day), reluctantly dragging themselves to another day in an unfriendly environment. They go there because they are forced to. Schools, regardless of where they are and what they are built of, should be places where the students, teachers and parents form a special relationship, a friendship that they value and talk about for years to come.
I’m happy to say that some of my best friends are places … and the Green School Bali campus is definitely one of them.