Imagine a place where carers can go away with their families AND their family member with a disability and be supported to have a holiday together… Imagine not having to leave your loved one at a respite centre and being able to receive support and participate in community activities surrounded by caring people who do things out of their Love and who are driven by their passion and desire to be a Change in the world!
This Vision is meant to enable families with children and young adults with special needs to come together and spend time living in community, feel supported by paid carers, friends and each other while being part of a ‘natural learning’ environment and activity program. I believe that it is safer for our kids to be “in community” than “alone” in a care home/institution… And forming naturally protective community around our kids is the best safeguard for their future when we are “gone”.
By contributing to local life here in Bali through community projects and workshops that raise awareness about sustainability in practical ways… Bamboo Creative Bali aims to provide enriching quality-of-life experiences for people with special needs, their carers, families, support staff and friends… Indirectly finding compatibilities, common strengths and building towards a community-living environment where our kids can spend more time and form lifelong relationships… We can begin to Live the theory/practice of becoming part of the ‘greater process’ of Consciously cultivating a culture we want to be a part of. ”
Building a Bridge:
Ownership to Custodianship – a Co-operative concept
How many people alive today remember when people lived close to each other and helped each other in an extended family situation? – grew food and gardened together, made craft together, walked to go swimming together, made meals together, looked after their elderly people – together … What does it take to go outside and start growing some seeds, gather fresh produce from the garden? make a meal?, play with kids or build a treehouse or mud structure???!
Maybe just a little organising?…..
What if everyone did for 3 or 4 hours a day – something they actually enjoy doing….?
Whether that’s feeding chickens, enjoying compost, cleaning toilets, gardening, giving a massage, cooking or preparing a meal, play with/educate kids, work on a building, filter water…. What would our lives look like if everyone just DID that?
Conceptual Framework Aims:
The aim of this Mission is to rediscover what it is like for people to live In-Community and to reduce their present sense/state of isolation, and so in the long term to create a village environment providing a community space for young people and adults with disabilities to be and feel included in community life and activities; to ease the care burden (created by our present societal structure) on parents of special needs children, and to help build our space into one of learning and sharing, music and dance, brain-gym and play-therapies, small-scale food-farming/gardening, and sharing time, hobbies, adventures, food and humour.
- To co-create a collaborative inclusive family environment to learn, work and play in… Somewhere to be part of a fun-filled commotion of activity and people where skills can be shared/learned/exchanged in a safe community environment
- Form a time-share set-up that values financial and in-kind contribution and creates an opportunity for parent/carers to live AND collaboratively care for our kids also… (Where parents can have some “retreat time” and some time with their family).
- Create an opportunity for people with disabilities to become involved in setting up the framework and structure for a broader living community and live a life of contribution and involvement in what happens on a day-to-day basis In this community.
- Work in collaboration with local organisations who manage care and activity programs to fund “excursions to Bali” so that PWD and their families can get a taste and become involved in this project development.
- To enhance our existing local school program through funding enabling it to include ourselves and our kids and to be enhanced for everyone.
- Provide training and upskilling for care-givers and staff in areas from teacher-support to high-needs care, ‘behaviour management’, assistive communication and complimentary therapies.
- Share inclusive activities while sharing skills – returning to the basic fundamentals of being human, a sense of companionship and caring for Earth; Valuing simply living and honouring ourselves and
- Enable us to Feel supported by a thriving healthy sustainable co-operative and collaborative community supported by a thriving community business/s riddled with social engagement opportunities and leveraged to enhance our lives and those of our children.
Through creating a web of collaboration between the local and wider international community (including people with disabilities, able people, professionals, friends); paid support staff and helpers/volunteers; and, other parents of special needs people, a community can be created around our kids that is like a natural village – where it’s not ‘WORK” to look after PWD; it’s not a “job”! It’s just life – in which everyone has a Vital role: Whether it be in day-based activities with the kids, community support, kitchen, laundry, gardening, cleaning, driving, leading yoga/meditation/music/sport activities… everyone has a part to play and levels of contribution can vary according to ability and means.
Financial and non-financial (in-kind) forms of contribution are equally valued; Parents get to enjoy spending time with their kids! And siblings who often miss out on their parents’ time can benefit also. (So while having “live-in” carers help care for special needs family members; parents can have a break – but also spend time together with their family member and have family holiday together …)
Register your interest in joining our Supported Family Retreat in Bali
Whether you’d like to be involved co-contributively behind the scenes or would like to invest by financial payment – we’d like to start planning the exposition for Family Revivement Groups coming to Bali… And future retreats that will be popping up in Australia. So register your interest (scroll to the bottom of the page in footer) and you will receive correspondence from us shortly to identify needs and options for collaboration.
Friends of Freyr is being established as a Co-operative (trading-not-for-profit) to manage the decision-making on behalf of the village/community members through a board elected on a rotational basis (like a jury perhaps). Members make agreed physical/financial contribution/s towards “owning” a share in this Co-operative. The membership is open worldwide to people with special needs/disabilities/different abilities, their families, and is inclusive of people who are just “bored” of the “real” world and wanting to experience a more community-minded way of life (people without “disabilities” are welcome to join).
The Co-op hires a CEO and essential board staff or, there may be a member/s who performs this role as part of their agreed contribution to the co-op share membership. (Surely NDIS funds could actually be used to create a Useful organisation capable of managing and providing for our kids’ future!) There are no external “investors” to syphon off finances unnecessarily: I.E. All income stays within the community (after expenses and paying staff etc)… the Co-op will directly manage funds for carers, towards establishing a physical community and other aspects of the social and physical infrastructure.
Establishment of community farming areas with the local community which form the backbone of cooperative activities with the local community (discussed later), funding for the local school program, training of staff and activities which our families can join; building homestays with local families and a “volunteer village” and family bungalows which will provide supported accommodation and be semi-self-contained permanent housing and supported accommodation (which is still connected to the community intrinsically). The village land is managed by the Co-Operative and families/individuals “rent” an area of Land and then bring/build their own house (like in some retirement village models in Australia and pay yearly or up-front co-op fee) – or families/ individuals may have shares/ownership in a one or more houses… similar to a time-share model.
The Village operates non-commercially… a True Social Enterprise which equally benefits all its members. “Investors” may make initial capital through on-selling allotment time privately on their own accord – and there could be a limited remuneration incentives available to those wanting to create some capital in the initial start-up phase (managed through local PT Bamboo Creative), but overall motivation for co-contributing to the start-up phase comes in the long term benefits of co-operative membership entitlements (as opposed to just buying “short term”/ad hoc stays. The long-term management and guardianship of the village area will be entrusted to either a jointly managed Indonesian and Foreign not-for-profit entity or a local Yayasan – which secures the long-term title and running/management of the village.
Having a co-founded Indonesian Yayasan on the land title means that the land will always be used and purposed for the Intentions of that charity, and even if in future generations’ time, one Yayasan board dissolves – the management of that land area will be given to another Yayasan by the government who has the same/similar purposes. I want to create such a legacy. That is my thinking to ensure the venture does not become “capitalistic”. Another option is to use a private company (PT PMA) – one of which I am in the process of communicating with and making a proposal to – to secure the land title in a foreign entity name through International Law (Hong Kong). These options are currently still being researched and input is welcomed.
I really believe and want this venture to be “non-commercial” and a true social enterprise in that there are not stake/shareholders involved that are interested in what profit they can derive from our children being “disabled”. ALL the benefits; ALL the revenue must go back into the village and to help seed other projects once it is at a self-sustaining stage of development. Examples being: Surplus funds enabling a subsidised transport hub; Building amenities such as a Hydrotherapy, training and outreach program expansion so that this model can be shared and help to seed other village communities creating a wider network and possibilities to relocate in future as our needs change.
In my opinion, south-east Asean countries are the perfect places culturally for such places of community-sharing to begin. The way of life for people here is very much more co-operative than in western countries; There is more a collective sense of responsibility for everyone… something I think western culture must relearn. When you step into the local mindset of South East Asia generally, you may notice that work, life and spirituality all seem to be rolled into one… There is a natural sense of co-operation which I’m sure many people have experienced in their travels (those of us who have been able to) and inclusion and the longer I live here – the more I see Why that is (probably a discussion best had with a glass of wine).
Not only that but, because of the hugely skewed exchange rate system, we can achieve much much more with our budget, and afford higher living standards than in our own countries. So whether we want to just be able to take some overseas holiday time annually and hang out face-to-face with other ‘crips’, or are looking for flexible or more permanent living for ourselves or our family member with a disability, have supported holiday time with our family, or get the hell out of Babylon once and for all… many options are present.
This model will provide equal opportunity for the local community and families with special needs members. In fact, our existence here (or just mine maybe) is possible because of the interdependent relationships I have with the local community and my commitment to mutually beneficial outcomes occurring for myself (as a westerner you could say), and for the people who have become like my family here.
There needs to be localised employment for the local community and local families who also want to join the village; Funding can/may be allocated to help seed localised businesses; to build businesses that are truly sustainable and enable local families to thrive and it is they who are really the backbone of our community or else how would I even function here? (I rely on local businesses for so many things like laundry, food, care for my daughter, getting around by car, and massages). I believe we (in our privileged financial position) must help to uplift and sustain local populations and Include people Co-operatively without needing to be “in control” of them. (I am slowly shifting from my western capitalistic mindset to understand more the nature of co-operation actually). Examples of family businesses: private warungs (café’s), transport/tours, childcare/housekeeping, laundry, massage, crafts and furniture-making…
Businesses and Employment
There will be two types of businesses: Those that are privately owned/family-run E.g. There may be a small family-owned transport business which is responsible for Community transport and receives a no-interest start-up loan from the Co-op.; and those that are run as part of the Co-operative: like the community restaurant and gardens/food production (where local staff are employed and paid a local wage/retainer but also benefit and enjoy proceeds/”the fruit” on a share-basis.)
The Cooperatively-run businesses support and fund the village as a whole and will be the basis of long-term sustainability. International families will be able to contribute ongoingly either purely financially (Retreat-style) or at a subsidised rate and have ‘volunteer’/rostered time working in and/or being responsible for supervising certain activities for the kids through the day. As will other members from skilled professionals who want to contribute and live part-time periodically or fulltime perhaps… whether they are abled, partly-abled, upside-down-enabled, or have some kind of ability to do so.
Open disclosure: Part of my own private business, as a consultant, will be to assist in business development here for persons with disabilities who would like to have an income connected with local production of whatever it is you want to make/create. I am no good at online marketing but I am very good at connecting people on the ground and finding sources for things and I hold space here (in Denpasar) for meetings and projects which help locals get connected with international “traders” while giving advice and ensuring fair trade and can also monitor quality of goods and co-ordinate small to bulk overseas freight). Also on visas, I can point you in the right direction for being able to stay here for up to 60 days at a time and have like an “export business”. So people/families can set up their own little trading businesses like these for ‘private income’. Locally paid carers can also manage some of these aspects for persons with disabilities living here more permanently while their family members may be overseas (in a supported accommodation-type setting).
Opinion: From my view, the person with special needs (I’m thinking severe intellectual disability here so don’t take anything I say in the wrong way ok) could have maximal involvement in their product and hang out potentially with the people making it, be empowered to be involved in and make appropriate decisions, learn life skills and also be allowed to “fail” and experiences consequences if that is part of an agreed plan for their living in the community village…. Ah the devil’s coming along to spike out some detail… I believe in having a community board of people with different abilities as representative of members/people who are adults living in the community (A panel Just for personal decision/making) and who may have decision-making impairments (such as my daughter who would never stop eating ice-cream if she were enabled to). I believe in having a NVC platform for advocacy for these members which, even their parents may not agree with… We all KNOW parents can be overprotective and I assert that in the first instance, it will be a choice parents/guardians make as to whether or not the board will have say in their PWD’s decisions/choices that may arise. And this will be part of the initial application so the Co-op can assess new members.
Continued Opinion: People can’t just think that they can “buy in” a place for their disabled person and then just dump them off there but want to be called in for every decision/problem that may arise. I’m being devils advocate… We’re not a “farm”. I want there to be a truly representative and insightful panel of people who have experience with disabilities and/or are “disabled” themselves to be overseeing decisions concerning my daughter when I am gone/dead/all that. Can of worms closed. One more worm: Example/Context – My aunt has downs-syndrome. At around age 30-35 she was totally in love and besotted with her autistic boyfriend. They wanted to marry but my grandparents forbade it and separated them physically talking with the other parents. I believe this to be an abuse of human rights. But, I also don’t know if my grandparents would have been capable or if they would be expected to be capable of helping care for a grandchild if my aunt had become pregnant. I have a talent for seeing 2 or more sides of situations… Ok that one can go back in the ground for now.
Subsidided Living/Co-contribution/Building Community/
Wouldn’t you just WANT to do that anyway?!
This comes back to the idea of Co-contribution: If everyone volunteers 2-3 or 4 hours a day (depending on needs and agreed contribution) then the ‘normal’ costs of staffing for overall will be lowered. “Kids” with similar needs may be grouped together and do activities which are appropriate for them – whether in helping prepare food, cleaning, gardening, harvesting food – all of which forms part of the post-school program run by the Yayasan (not-for-profit entity). Where appropriate, funding may be utilised to share carers and equipment. Overall, the aim is for our “kids” to form friendships and participate in group activities and contribute meaningfully instead of being alone/isolated.
The Village will have a “volunteer” or Ground Zero community program that accepts “helpers” who come and stay and help enrich the social fabric and creativity/arts experiences for our kids and who may help in areas such as musical and arts activities, Thera-play activities, general care-giving/supervision, food preparation, gardening, natural building, administration, advertising, language skills etc. Food and accommodation is provided by the village in exchange for an agreed contribution in a chosen area.
Helpers may stay With families or in our volunteer dorm accommodation. We hope to establish a network of visiting artists and carers who just enjoy to take time out and come and help in our village and be part of our family-life. There may be participants with specialist skills who come on an “internship” or for a “working holiday”… this may include those with whom a collaboration can be made for in-kind contribution on a one-off basis or in an agreed way if they would like their time and talent to contribute towards “owning” a share in the Co-operative. This can also apply to “skilled professionals”. And it may mean parents who have skills and are committed to the project development are enabled to “earn” their share in the village and spend more time actively involved in the start-up phase, while being part of the community – rather than struggling to care for their person with special needs and working in the “western society” context.
I have been working on and integrating this “volunteer aspect” and testing out things here in the local context of building my house in Denpasar… I have had maybe around 50 people stay with us as volunteers and have found people to be a lovely help in building (especially since this is natural building and with bamboo which is very attractive for ‘conscious travellers’) and having friends/visitors brings social stimulation for myself, and a more lively dynamic to our household – privides language practice and interest for my carers (I’m not a big talker) and we have had quite a few little adventure trips around with our vols and have got to see ‘a bit more of the island’. There are positives and negatives, as with all things, and overall, it’s been an enriching and de-isolating experience.
I anticipate that people with disabilities with capacity to contribute in the initial start-up and development areas with their skills and expertise may also be included and participate fully in the community village formation. In my view, it is better to tap on this vast resource that I believe is lying latent due to the collision of battling to achieve funding needs in our home countries with being able to have a freaking life… ! I don’t want to dictate to anyone. I just hope that I can inspire others towards leading a more independent impactful life more time can be spent Living Life In Community.
And lastly, but actually it should have been the first thing… this model for care of our kids will have a craft production workshop (though I don’t like the term “production”) where contribution is invited from local families and parents who may find it hard to be employed due to their child’s care needs.
The Yayasan Activity Centre program supports local kids at a fundamental level (similar to the Yayasan my daughter now attends supports local kids with special needs, and our financial contribution helps to enhance the existing school). Local parents can be employed and be onsite near their kids, while being able to earn income through making craft/ working in the restaurant, providing transport etc. (Also for PWD, they could earn “community currency” (see next section/page) in such ways which would make the Centrelink Income tests bullpoop-obsolete and enable contribution and a fair share in return).
Local Parents/participants may also teach workshops and share skills which will also earn income for them (foreigners can not legally work here – as in earning money In indonesia). The sales from this workshop and the craft products will generate funds which support the school program and pay staff/carers and help the local operation become self-sustaining and not “reliant” on outside sources. Another aspect of Co-Contribution.
If people did what they loved, and gave/contributed from their heart, imagine what feeling there would be among people…. Of course we still need money and there’s certain things we like to be paid for. But things in general, that make up life, that have become commodified; that are really just very basic and I would even say “necessary” parts of being human – somehow have been relegated to “others” while we spend our time instead in shopping malls, in front of the computer/TV; behind a desk/isolated etc. If everyone contributed 3-4 hours/day whether to growing vegetables, preparing meals, supervising kids/looking after kids, natural building activities or natural therapies – we would have a lot of our needs met without having to spend so much money on these things… We could have a more cultural learning / community sharing experience and feel like a family… I feel like, especially for the life of my daughter – I want to experience her living in Real community and to Live Life in Revivement (coming back to life)… not waiting for Retirement (for life to go away).