I am Australian mother building an inclusive disability community project for my 19 year old daughter and other children with special needs in Bali. I am passionate about natural building design and experimentation, raising awareness and sharing skills that can make building bamboo homes sustainable, affordable and accessible. I desire to enable young people and adults with disabilities to be and feel included in community life and activities; and to ease the care burden for parents of special needs children through enabling them to access inclusive activities by building spaces of learning and sharing music, dance, physical therapies, farming activities, time, food and humour, sustainability skills and healing pass-times such as crafting with bamboo, weaving and other right-brain activities. I believe that maintaining skills and traditions at the local level and promoting the value of bamboo as a sustainable building material/resource will enable it’s revival and help enhance the lives of people in ‘developing’ countries. I intend to facilitate cooperative relationships between ‘westerners’ and local families which are mutually beneficial to help share skills and knowledge of how we can live more sustainably, alongside the practical experience of learning bamboo carpentry and construction, and am also part of establishing a not-for-profit trading co-operative for people with special needs and their families who may want to visit/spend time in Bali to be part of a supported lifestyle and activity program.

I’ve been working with bamboo now for the last 5 years or so, becoming interested at first through wanting to know how I could help friends in a remote part of the Philippines access knowledge about ‘natural’ treatment methods to make bamboo last a long time. My background is in Environmental Studies (Social Science) with my main interest lying in Community Development and Resource Management integrated with Agroforestry practices. My daughter Freyr was born before i finished University and I’ve been a “mum” since 2001; running my own business as a massage therapist since 2008, and more recently working out how I can be involved in creating a Vision for a kind of community I would be able to function in (i.e. work) and actually  “Love” to live in and be part of – (as a parent of someone with a high needs disability) with inspiration and insight coming to me vividly in 2014 when I first experienced life in the Philippines as a volunteer on the first Windship/Earthship Build in Tacloban after Typhoon Hian/Yolanda…  

Experiencing life in the Philippines is where I really learned about “family” to “slow down” and see life from a more wholistic perspective. Additionally, I was more able to “function” outside my caring role for my daughter and to have some time to develop my own interests in building design with natural/upcycled materials and bamboo… It didn’t seem so hard to take care of Freyr and she really seemed to enjoy the sense of “belonging” in a family environment. I stayed for nearly a year in the Philippines in 2016 where local families helped me to care for my daughter Freyr (who is intellectually disabled and has moderately high care needs). While living there, I assisted to make some small building projects with the families we stayed with – hoping it would help them to create some income to support their livelihoods (local salaries are remarkably low) And as I was helping a family to build a homestay room, I saw first hand the effect that insects can have on bamboo (when left untreated) and saw why people generally have a negative perception of bamboo as a building material – which is what brought me to Bali actually… where I have learned quite a lot first hand about bamboo building and treatment through my house project, and am still trying to figure out how that could be made affordable for, not only my friends in the Philippines, but other local people in Bali and ASEAN countries. 

I moved to Bali in 2017 and built a house in Denpasar alongside developing a model for a social/volunteer concept/program to help my daughter Freyr and myself to have continued social connection and community involvement and support after leaving the Philippines and having run into obstacles to living in Australia again. Over the last 4-5 years I have been blessed to meet many people – local craftsmen, artists and travelers with various expertise from parkour, yoga and rock-climbing to architecture and marketing and my daughter has experienced an enriched social life and meaningful connections while having her care needs met by local care “staff” who are like family to us. 

The vision I have for Bamboo Creative Bali (and why I formed a company here) is to create a model for living in Community and seeing how people with disabilities can be more included in daily life and to enable us to share our gifts as people/humans, inclusively, in a community environment. I am working for this to be applied to a housing model that will give my daughter better quality of life experience and social connection, than what is presently available, when she returns to Australia (and is able to access funding as a person with a disability). I was told by Disability “Planners” in 2017 that my vision “doesn’t exist!” and so part of my mission living here is to show that “Yes it DOES!”. And, that I can in fact also, have a life and occupation alongside my life-long role as my daughter’s mother and Carer. And as part of this Vision, I would like to enable other families and travellers to experience this model alongside local culture and hospitality – while creating socially, economically and environmentally-enriching experiences.

Through this model I have expanded my own skills and knowledge and am now able to create a livelihood for myself from the learning I’ve had living here in Indonesia I and look forward to now having time to develop my vision further in my own “work” role/s in facilitating workshops in bamboo and natural /upcycled building techniques and having effective contribution towards enabling people (in general) to lead more sustainable lives. I established my Indonesian PMA (international trading company) Bamboo Creative Bali, in January this year (2021) to enable a more formal approach and development of what I wish to see be made available in the world of bamboo and earth-friendly life skills – and plastic management/reuse. I believe that incorporating bamboo-building and skill-sharing with a kind of local tourism will help local families to be empowered to use bamboo as a building material in their own houses and help to broaden the reach and sharing of skills and knowledge around Environmental Awareness and also be a Proactive measure in creating solutions that everyone can be part of – in a fun and recreational way – while creating and broadening our concept of community and what it is to be part of a/the Global Village. 

Bamboo Creative Bali focuses on offering and developing unique/hand-made and individual/customized bamboo building, recycled-design and natural/earth building programs where participants are enabled to be part of the design experience and process of each project. As well, we offer design programs for locally produced bamboo finished products and components [natural and recycled] through partnerships with local families directly (that is, not controlled by a middleman and where the economic shares/financial factors are transparent); where there are mutual fair benefits. My aim is to ENABLE more local families to have access to building their own “homestay” which could benefit them socially and economically using renewable/recycled materials (bamboo-based) and to open up avenues for more local families to learn about sustainability, and a pathway for “us” to regain our human-ness and a much more authentic experience of local culture which benefits locals directly.

Rave alert:

We, as westerners, need to acknowledge that it is the capitalist system and economy/currency-framing that has created poverty in most-all post colonized nations on the planet. It is not acceptable to assume that we are doing “poor people” a favor by paying them basically nothing to “produce goods/labour” for the “west”. You only have to take a peek behind the curtains in which Capitalism is framed – (and good old history lessons) to what are laughingly referred to as “ancient” cultures (which gives us the false impression that they/their heritage and traditions and especially pre-colonial economies/trade systems have absolutely no bearing on present-day life even though it was the British and other Colonials who outlawed them) – to see that it is “our” very presence that continues to create poverty (through the current imposition of currency exchange rates and devaluing of local currencies) as well as the “regulations” and layers of post-colonial laws which make it practically impossible for anyone in a “third-world” country to have any kind of “equality” or “living standard” that we, as westerners, take for granted pretty much. 

Through all our cultures’ greed and plundering of these nations, we have to stop and realize that the future and well-being of our planet has more to do with how sustainable “they” Are, or Will Be – in the next 20-30 years. “They”, who make up more than 70% of the world’s population, compared with our own relatively tiny proportion of the world population. Even though we’ve swallowed up most of the resources and continue to tread a much bigger carbon footprint than most people in developing countries, the fact of the matter is that they now are striving to live like us! (Side-fact: Already proven to be non-sustainable)… So if we don’t address this issue NOW and ensure tha post-colonized nation people can access quality of life in their own lands and villages and WITHOUT moving to cities and becoming “part of the problem” … as a friend in the Philippines said: “We’re just re-arranging deck-chairs on the Titanic”. 

End of Rave

What spurred me to create this project was my own need to feel part of an inclusive community where I can live in a collaborative family environment and Thrive; have a sense of purpose, and contribute to a community which is committed to seeing a better world for our children.

I have been incredibly inspired since first coming to Asia at how inclusive the culture is towards people with special needs, and by the presence of Foundations/Yayasans here in Bali whose charter it is to help children with disabilities. I have actually felt human and connected in a way I had never experienced in Australia. We naturally slotted in to a more co-operative mindset and sense of shared responsibility… I feel so blessed to be able to experience life in a more “meaningful” way and to be able to contribute in some way and help others.

This is what led me to have a vision to create a wholistic village where “sustainable” activities are just part of daily life and form part of a living program where our “kids” get to join in and participate together with paid staff/carers and the broader local community as well as travellers and visitors who wish to participate in being of service to the Greater Good and are interested in sharing their time and skills with us… See our FRIENDS OF FREYR page for more info about this project and current opportunities to join our Family Homestay in Bali.

I endeavor to become part of the network of social enterprises which are developing globally and help form connections in ways where we may return to our familiar/tribal roots as humankind and plant the seeds of Caring Custodianship; pulling the weeds of Capitalism out of our lives as we go… To rethink How we think... about ourselves and everything around us. Through experiencing BEING in Com-munity and engaging in activities which bring us into Communion/ Communication with ourselves and each other… To be able to Feel and just be Present for our Kids with special needs – and enjoy them!… To unravel our minds… to open our Hearts to what has been there all along. I want to enable other families to also enjoy a more co-operative way of life – that restores and enhances this local culture also.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to co-creating something great with you!

Feel free to get in touch with me here…


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