Soulshine Concert and Bali Green School

This is a photo story about a unique day we had in Bali. It included a giant bamboo structure, snakes, a concert and yoga. Grab a cup of cleansing organic tea and have a little holiday.

Before we began our Bali escapade, we selected our hotels, flights and vaccinations. The rest we left open, except one thing: All eight of us bought tickets to a concert fundraiser to benefit Bali’s Green School. They weren’t cheap tickets, but it was for a good cause… The only thing I knew above that, was it involved Michael Franti. He’s what I would call a free-love music front man, conservationist and yogi. He calls himself a poet, musician and activist. He calls Bali home, or at least spends a lot of time there. And he was headlining this fundraiser to benefit the school where it was held.

I’ve never been to a yoga concert before, so why not make Bali the place to try it out, right? As it turned out, it was the most Western of our adventures in Bali, and much of it felt comfortable, like a Hippie home away from home, in a gorgeous tropical setting.

The venue and grounds were one of the most interesting things about the evening: a school  called The Green School, it is aptly named. It’s a lovely, heartwarming idea, and also a great example of reverse innovation – creating solutions in developing countries that can also translate to developed countries. The sisters in this TED talk are Green School students talking about how they are making environmental change in Indonesia – a very populous, developing country (which includes Bali, Java, Borneo and Sumatra, among others). The central building of the Green School is a gorgeous two-story structure made entirely of bamboo. (Bamboo, being a fully sustainable building material, and readily available locally, made this a wise choice.)  But it’s also a unique form. Not a box, like most other schools – they sent packing the architects who suggested a cube-like structure and made it a double helix shape – natural, organic, open air. It’s called The Heart of School rather than the box-proposed “administration complex”. A very bold statement for thinking outside the box.

It’s a school where they make 70% of their power needs from solar.  I was impressed enough that I took a photo of a photo of their solar panels (which are tucked away, invisible to all but the sun). They do more than that, though. They grow their own food to feed the students, cook with sawdust and reclaimed methane from their farm animals, and they teach forward thinking about how their own students can become leaders to promote environmental change. It was voted the greenest school on earth in 2012. I love that a developing country is home to this. It is a hopeful sign. (In case this is intriguing to you, the founder of the school has a TED talk about why he did what he did.) My only further hope was that the school itself included local, indigenous folk as much as the expats who were there on this day.

Gentle marimba music trickled through the bamboo gate as we arrived. Late afternoon sun spilled through palm fronds onto the grassy center lawn. Spicy satay wafted on the air, and musical acts were entertaining gypsy dancers, half-dressed children and long blonde dreadlocks in the gathering crowd. It was the biggest Hippie party I’d been to in a while. Probably the biggest since that Hurricane Hugo raggae fundraiser I went to at some Minneapolis community center gym years ago, but back to Bali…  The event was comfortable, relaxed and low key, if not entirely attended by expats. I sat for a long while and thought about how it might feel to live on this island and send my kids to this school.


The audience sprawled comfortably on blankets across the lawn with naked babies, listening, and chatting (mostly in English) while their children played on rope swings and bamboo playgrounds. Ours blended in and did the same. It was a little taste of familiarity, a break in the middle of an otherwise very foreign trip for my kids.



Inside were jewelry vendors, artists, dancers, body painters (and related photo shoot) and as you would expect, snakes.

Just outside there was a pig. For eating.

And across the lawn… there were drum circles blooming organically on the grass, casting a warm, woody rhythm across the crowd.

The star of the show wandered among the people, randomly spotting aerial yoga poses. That’s Franti, on the right, drumming, (above) and on the left, spotting (below).

Across the grass, under another cover was the stage. As the sun fell, the volume rose, encouraging dance and revelry.



And as I had taken to capturing the food we ate…

This is locally grown (on the school grounds) raw-foodist pesto-vegan pizza, I think. Served in typical Bali style – on a banana leaf. Perfect Franti-concert fare, but I stuffed myself on satay instead.


Then the light faded and we faced a four-hour drive back, along thin, winding, dark roads, to the villa, so before Michael Franti even took the stage, we headed out.