Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Building Energy 2009

Yestermorrow is heading to the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)'s Building Energy conference again this year in Boston March 10-12, 2009. This is a great event which we are excited to attend every year, bringing together nearly 200 of the country's best presenters to define the leading edge of smart building, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Yestermorrow will have a booth at this year's conference, and we're looking for a like-minded organization or business who might want to split the booth with us in order to lower costs. If you might be interested, please email Kate at for more details on logistics and expenses.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Instructor Mark Chalom's project named Green Home of the Year

Albuouquerque Journal
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Santa Fe Residence Named Green Home of the Year

Santa Fe architect Mark Chalom has won the 2009 Su Casa Magazine/Build Green New Mexico award for Green Home of the Year by pushing sustainable building to a new level of overall excellence. Chalom won for the Santa Fe area Bechtold residence, which had earned the top-level Gold certification under Build Green New Mexico. It showed excellence in sustainable building practices by its placement on the land, its use of solar energy for heating, widespread use of nontoxic materials and its innovative approach to combining super insulation with interior adobe walls, according to a news release from Su Casa editor Charles Poling. The magazine is a publication of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico. The house also has a system for harvesting rainwater and reclaiming household water. The home was built by Custom Homes by John DiJanni.

The Green Home of the Year Awards program is in its second year, honoring builders, designers, architects, homeowners and companies that reach the highest levels of green building. Awards were presented Thursday at the Homebuilders Association's annual dinner. Homes this year competed in two broad divisions: those certified under Build Green New Mexico or U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Homes certification programs and those that were not certified. Winning the Innovative Green Home award for projects not certified was the EcoHouse Santa Fe, designed and built by Klaus Meyer of EcoHouse Santa Fe, with architectural designer Andreas Frick and energy consultant Joaquin Karcher of One Earth Design in Taos. The home adheres to the "passive house" concept, which means it consumes 20 percent to 30 percent of the energy of a conventional home, the news release said. The builder relied on locally available natural materials such as adobe, locally harvested lumber and recycled newspaper insulation. Interior finishes are toxin- and solvent-free clay plaster. "We saw an impressive array of entries in this year's competition," Poling said in the release. "Green builders in New Mexico are exploring all kinds of new and innovative solutions to problems like how to reduce energy use, conserve water, and create a healthy indoor environment. It's a time of amazing creativity."

Other winners were for best green remodeling project — Earth and Straw, an Albuquerque-based building and remodeling company; for energy efficiency — Kreger Design Build; for water efficiency — Mark Chalom, architect; for lot design, preparation, development and environmental responsibility — Verde Design Group and Sam Sterling Architecture; for use of materials and resource efficiency — EcoHouse Santa Fe; for indoor environmental quality — Artistic Homes and EcoHouse Santa Fe; for operation, maintenance and homeowner education — Panorama Homes; and for environmental impact — The Dream Home, a house in Santa Fe owned and designed by the husband and wife design/build team of Jody Fayas and Cara Leig.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yestermorrow at GreenBuild

Yestermorrow has hit GreenBuild by storm-- this year's annual US Green Building Council conference is in Boston this week and Yestermorrow is well represented. We have a booth (#463- come say hi!) which we're sharing with our friends from the VT chapter of the Congress of Residential Architecture (including YM faculty John Connell, Daniel Johnson, and John McLeod). We also wandered around the (huge) expo hall and ran into instructors Bill Hulstrunk (National Fiber), Jim Newman (Building Green), Buzz Ferver (Filtrexx), Gunnar Hubbard (Fore Solutions) and Brad Guy (Building Materials Reuse Association). Not to mention all the other instructors and students who are attending the conference and stopped by to say hello. It's exciting to see how big this green building movement has become and what a diverse group of people are attracted to it. Today I went to two education sessions-- one on greening high school trades programs, and another on the future of sustainable design education in architecture schools. Tomorrow the focus will be on residential green building, then things wrap up on Friday with closing speakers and sessions.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thinking about going solar next year?

Beginning in 2009, the $2,000 cap on photovoltaic systems will be lifted and the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will apply to the entire system cost. The $2,000 ITC cap on solar hot water systems remains. Detailed information on federal and state rebates, incentives and tax credits for all solar technologies and energy efficiency is available at the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website -

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Check out new photos from Welding and Cutting

We've posted a new album of images from our recent Welding and Cutting class. Thanks to instructor Ben Cheney for the photos!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whole Systems Design Completes New Studio

Our friends and colleagues at Whole Systems Design in Moretown, VT have recently completed a beautiful new studio and shop. The WSD team includes many Yestermorrow faculty and alumni, including Ben Falk, Michael Blazewicz, Buzz Ferver, Keith Morris and Micah Whitman. The WSD team now operates out of a dual purpose studio-workshop that models principles in passive solar design, site-building integration, site-based materials use, optimized indoor air quality and more. View Photo Gallery

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yestermorrow Public Lectures

Interested in finding out more about Yestermorrow but can't make it to Vermont? We'll be doing public presentations at a variety of schools this fall and winter:

October 22
School of Architecture Media Classroom, 6 - 6:45 p.m.
Philadelphia University
Kyle Bergman

November 7
Ecosa Institute
Steve Badanes

November 19
Berea College
Steve Badanes

December 12
Rural Studio
Steve Badanes

March 27 or 28
Steve Badanes

June 3
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (Newport VT)
Kate Stephenson

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Music at the 'Morrow

Who knew the acoustics in the shop were so good when you turn off the dust collector??? Regular jam sessions have been happening all over campus-- on this occasion it was the last intern morning meeting with both the summer crew and the incoming fall interns, led by Dave Warren, facilities manager on standup bass.

Kate Stephenson to serve as interim director of Yestermorrow

The search for Yestermorrow’s next Executive Director is underway. The Search Committee is made up of current and former members of the Board of Directors and will conduct a nationwide search for the individual to succeed Bob Ferris as executive director of Yestermorrow. Director of Operations Kate Stephenson has agreed to serve as interim director beginning October 1, and to remain in that role until a new director is employed. She will then remain as Director of Operations for the new director’s orientation period. Stephenson, who early on alerted the Yestermorrow Board of Directors that she had decided not to be a candidate for the executive director’s role, has been at Yestermorrow since 2002. Her commitment to continue to manage Yestermorrow’s exceptional 9 member staff—and the full scope of Yestermorrow operations in general—provides the School with extraordinarily valuable administrative leadership and continuity and provides the Search Committee and the board of directors with the opportunity to engage in a thorough search for the next director without any deadline constraints.

More information on the executive director search will be published at in the coming weeks.

Mac Rood
President, Board of Directors

Thursday, October 09, 2008

$25,000 in Scholarship Funds Available

A generous anonymous donor has created a $25,000.00 scholarship fund at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. The donor has urged the School’s staff and Board of Directors to spend these monies before the end of the School’s fiscal year in March of 2009.

This fund will be used for potential students who want and need to take a Yestermorrow course, but do not have the resources for tuition, travel expenses or child care. Those interested in applying should do so as soon as possible, either by visiting the School’s website at, or calling the School at 888.496.5541. Email questions about the scholarship application should be directed to

“I don’t think that I have to tell anyone that times are tough out there,” stated Bob Ferris, Yestermorrow’s Executive Director. “As a hands-on school we obviously believe that thinking and doing go hand-in-hand — teaching and action. And the action in this instance is to see what we can do to help those that need a little extra help.”

“We value diversity here at Yestermorrow and want to spread what we teach and how we teach it to the widest possible audience. We owe a lot of thanks to our donor for helping us to open our doors wider to the very students who will benefit most from a Yestermorrow experience,” added Yestermorrow’s Board President Mac Rood.

Potential students interested in the scholarship program will be asked to complete an application that includes financial information and personal life-long learning goals. Decisions about disbursement of the funds will be made by a committee comprised of Yestermorrow staff and Board members. Scholarships will be awarded on a rolling and timely basis.

A Note from Bob

Dear friends,

It is with a mixed sense of accomplishment and the regret associated with moving from one challenge to looking for the next, that I announce that I'm leaving Yestermorrow Design/Build School. (Now, I have said the difficult part.)

During my tenure we accomplished great things in terms of building needed infrastructure, increasing the visibility of the school, and managing our often extraordinary growth. I firmly believe that the school's reputation, overall visibility, and staff strength have never been better or higher than at this point in time. But they need to and will improve.

The bottom-line is that as Yestermorrow enters this next and important phase of its growth, the organization needs an Executive Director to be someone with well-developed skills in architecture and design rather than my wider experience in natural systems, advocacy, and sustainability. I believe this is the right decision for the school and for me, but I will miss working with this dedicated staff, the instructors, students, and board.

I have grown so close to many of you and thank you all for you loyalty, cooperation and friendship. I sincerely hope to retain these relationships long after I leave my current position at Yestermorrow.

Here is looking forward to our next encounter,

Bob Ferris
Executive Director

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WCAX Story on History of the Design/Build Movement in VT

This story on the history of design/build in Vermont originally aired on Burlington, VT's WCAX station on September 23rd and features the work of a variety of Yestermorrow faculty members, as well as a few shots of our campus, students and interns. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sellers at the Fleming

Our own Dave Sellers will talk about the origins of the Vermont Design/Build movement at the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont. Dave's talk with take place at 6:30 on October 2nd. It should be an interesting talk and all are encouraged to attend.

Bob Ferris

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Carbon Shredders Do Radio

Gregor Barnum from Seventh Generation and I found an open door at the radio station and took advantage of the situation. We hope you enjoy and get on the carbon shredders bandwagon. Enjoy. Good news radio.

Fleming Museum Exhibit on Vermont's Design/Build Movement

Architectural Improvisation: A History of Vermont's Design/Build Movement 1964-1977

September 24 - December 19, 2008, East Gallery, Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vermont

Architectural Improvisation: A History of Vermont's Design/Build Movement 1964-1977 documents a radical, Vermont-based architectural movement characterized by organic forms, improvisational processes, hands-on methods, and natural materials. Predating the back-to-the-land movement but motivated by similar values and principles, the Design/Build movement focused on a new mediatory role for architecture both in creating community and in the then-newly charged relationship between humans and the environment. A number of the documented projects from the mid-1960s pioneered technological and social experimentation such as solar heating, wind power, and co-housing.

Guest-curated by Norwich University architecture professor Danny Sagan, the exhibition traces the development of the Design/Build movement from its roots in Bauhaus theory at Yale School of Architecture in the early 1960s to its radical social, technological, and aesthetic experimentation. It examines the work of a group of young architects who moved to Vermont from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania Architecture program in the mid-1960s, among them, David Sellers, Bill Reineke, Jim Sanford, Bill Maclay, Ellen Strauss, Charles Hosford, John Mallary, and Barry Simpson. The exhibition documents for the first time the exemplary Vermont projects created by these architects, including Sibley/Pyramid House, Tack House, and Dimetrodon on "Prickly Mountain" in Warren, Vermont; Goddard College in Plainfield; and the Anthos housing project in Waitsfield; as well as Skidompha House in Maine. It presents previously unpublished photographs and drawings, contemporary photographs, artifacts from the houses, and other documentary materials that reflect both the process and the resulting structures. An accompanying catalogue will be published by the University of Vermont Press.

On Sunday, November 2 the Fleming Museum will host a panel discussion with several of the original architects and residents of an early, experimental, solar co-housing complex in Warren, Vermont, as they discuss and debate the genesis and legacy of the Design/Build tradition in Vermont.
For more information, visit

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

'The lunch lady with love' Yestermorrow's chef crafts meals from what's at hand

From today's Times Argus newspaper (Tuesday, September 9, 2008):
By Sylvia Fagin, Correspondent

Like a sprite, Heidi Benjamin is everywhere at once – physically and conversationally.

One moment she's explaining the spiral design of the kitchen garden at Yestermorrow, the design/build school in Warren where she's the whole foods chef. The next, she's striding across the field to show off spiky purple plumes of amaranth while explaining how she got the moniker "lunch lady with love."

For almost 30 years, Yestermorrow has provided inspiration and skills in sustainable design and building methods, teaching classes like "green home design," "ecological water systems," and "woodworking for women." The faculty boasts MIT grads, as well as lifelong craftspeople, and although students may not come for the food, they certainly learn from it.

Three times a day, all year long, Benjamin and her crew of cooks provide a tasty, healthy meal, almost entirely from local ingredients, demonstrating that eating locally can be delicious and affordable. A tangible feeling of community is created as students from diverse backgrounds dine and chat together.

"Students want to chill and feel the essence of this place, of sustainability," Benjamin explains in the dining room that's naturally lit by two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the spiral garden — and nearly eliminate the need for artificial lighting. Students learn that "it is possible to serve really good, local food for a pretty OK price. A lot of people are worried about that." Describing herself as a "frugal localvore," Benjamin rattles off some of the meals she creates from seasonal produce and local ingredients: Breakfasts of homemade granola, local eggs and oatmeal, Manghi's cinnamon raisin toast. Lunch buffets featuring cole slaw bursting with green beans, crunchy cabbage and sweet carrots, cold cuts of local turkey and ham, garlicky dill pickles, and Madhouse Munchies chips.

Dinners follow a theme, like Mexican night with fajitas of seitan and local beef; Benjamin devotes an entire chest freezer to the summer's bounty, ensuring local salsa all year long. Indian meals are almost entirely vegan, featuring kale saag, curried cauliflower, and homemade vegetable chutneys.

Benjamin invites student input — it keeps her creating.

"I ask vegans, 'What do you miss? Scalloped potatoes?' I can do that with soy milk. Instead of spanikopita, I do 'kale-kopita,' with tofu."

"I'm learning as I go," she says. "They call me a whole foods chef. I joke and say I'm three-quarters, because every so often a can of Pringles is just so fine. I don't sit and study books to find out what I'm supposed to do. I think, what do I want to eat? Sometimes I really want to eat comfort food — so how can I make that comfort food more healthy?" Benjamin substitutes honey and maple syrup for white sugar, strips of zucchini for lasagna noodles.

The fields and woods of the bucolic campus provide fiddleheads, ramps, a bevy of wild mushrooms, not to mention the foundation of a variety of hot and cold drinks.

"We have 10 different drinks we make for the cost of running the hot water." She lists a few: Sumac, dandelion, cinnamon basil mixed with lemon balm — none more mysterious than the process of letting leaves or roots seep for a while. "Students ask, 'Is that all there is to it?'" she recalls. "It makes it more approachable for people. They say, 'I can do that.'"

By example, Benjamin shows students that they can eat sustainably with ease; in return, she gets accolades, hugs and a dream kitchen where every cabinet, shelf and spice rack is custom-built.

"It's like a mix of camp, college and home here," she enthuses, offering up gifts of funky misshapen tomatoes, homemade jam, an offer to cater a student's wedding. "We feel the love. It's such a yummy feeling."

Heidi Benjamin's yummy meals are available to students of Yestermorrow Design/Build School courses, which range from one day to two weeks.

Sylvia Fagin writes about local foods and food producers. Contact her at

Monday, August 25, 2008

AIA Continuing Education programs at Yestermorrow

This year Yestermorrow has expanded its Continuing Education offerings through the American Institute of Architects and in 2008 we have 63 courses and workshops available. Our AIA/CES courses are specifically designed for current and future design professionals. For 2009 the AIA will launch a new continuing education requirement for Sustainable Design credits and a number of Yestermorrow's courses will fill this new requirement. Courses available for AIA/CES credits are indicated on our website and in our catalog in the course descriptions with the AIA symbol and a full listing is available on our website at Architecture students are also eligible for 0.15 IDP units per LU.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yestermorrow's New Book is Here

There are times when organizations are quiessent and other times when they are running on all cylinders. Yestermorrow Design/Build School is currently in the latter mode--we are charging along at warp speed. The good news is that folks are taking notice in droves. Examples abound.

Last week our own Valley Reporter ran a multiple page spread on our recent Art of Stone class taught be Thea Alvin. It is a wonderful piece, but if you didn't see it you should check out the video:

We are also recieving quite a bit of attention regarding our expansion plans. Last night the folks from Watershed Studio and Jersey Devil held their first public charrette. It was a great experience with a ton of ideas shared. Really exciting stuff.

Thursday--August 21th--during the lunch hour Vermont Public Radio will run piece on Yestermorrow, our campus and our teaching methodologies. If you are not in Vermont, we will post the link to interview soon.

And tomorrow night, we will toast the release of our first book Natural Building: Creating Communities Through Cooperation with a wine and finger food celebration and book signing here on the Yestermorrow campus. Following the wine one of the co-editors of the book Tim Rieth will give a lecture about his adventures in the world of natural building. The signing will run from 6-7PM and lecture will start at 7. We hope you can come celebrate this first with us but if you cannot, please be there in spirit. The book is on sale at Yestermorrow and also at Barnes & Noble, Borders and through Yestermorrow is selling the book for $25 including postage for orders in the US (contact to order)

Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This Isn't New We've Been Doing It for a Generation

A recent New York Times article talked about an emerging practice in design: Doing it with your hands. While this is a wonderful development and a fine article, this is what Yestermorrow has been doing for a nearly thirty years--connecting hand and mind through design/build. Enjoy.

Bob Ferris

(Thanks for the heads up Mac.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Natural Building Intensive Slideshow

Check out these images from the 11-week Natural Building Intensive program which ended a few weeks ago.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Residential Green Building Rating Systems in Vermont

Confused about all the green building certifications out there? Me too. But over the summer I've been meeting with a group of builders and designers from around the state as the volunteer "Residential Green Building Advocate" for Vermont to try to get a grasp on the 4 existing programs in the state, and pros and cons of each.

Certification programs give buildings a kind of "seal of approval" for greenness. LEED has become the most recognized green building certification program for commercial projects, but in January 2008, USGBC set out to address the large residential building market with the launch of LEED-H - or LEED for HOMES. However, many municipalities, Home Builder Associations, and states (including Vermont) have had their own residential rating systems for years. With the introduction of a new nationally recognized standard, and various programs to choose from, how do you decide which is most appropriate for your project? A group made up of members from the Vermont Green Building Network (VGBN), Building for Social Responsibility (BSR), Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Housing Finance Association (VHFA), and the Home Builders Remodeling Association (HBRA), has been meeting over the past several months to develop a comprehensive resource for residential green building programs available in Vermont. The short term goal is to develop an interactive website that allows consumers to understand and evaluate the various components of each program in terms of design and building requirements, certification standards, and costs. The overall goal is to have all the groups work together to improve the housing stock in Vermont! We eventually hope to have this resource available as part of VGBN's website, but you can currently find information about individual programs at the following websites:
LEED for HOMES- (LEED-H) USGBC's home rating standard
Vermont Builds Greener - (VBG) Vermont's residential rating program
Energy Star - EPA Energy Efficiency Guidelines for homes
National Association of Home Builders - Model Green Home Guidelines.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Carbon Shredders Recognized by Congress

The following floor statement was made today by Vermont Congressman Peter Welch:

The 110th Congress has been focused on rising energy prices, protecting our environment, and finding concrete, long term solutions to climate change. The scientific evidence is clear: global warming is real, it is urgent, and it requires our immediate attention.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the dedicated efforts of Carbon Shredders, a grassroots environmental group based in the Mad River Valley of Vermont. Formed in the fall of 2007 by three local environmentalists, Carbon Shredders dedicates its time to curbing local energy consumption, helping Vermonters lower their energy costs, and working towards a clean energy future. The group challenges participants to alter their lifestyles in ways consistent with the goal of reduced energy consumption.

In March, three Vermont towns passed resolutions introduced by Carbon Shredders that call on residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by ten percent by 2010. In addition to the environmental advantages of this initiative, participating households are expected to save nearly $700 each year. Carbon Shredders’ membership has grown considerably in Vermont since its founding, and the group has recently received national attention. I would like to recognize Carbon Shredders for their efforts on behalf of Vermont and the global community at-large. Any real solutions to the energy and environmental crises will demand the leadership and vision exemplified by this locally-based grassroots organization from Vermont. Thank you.


Thank you, Peter!

The Carbon Shredders ( is a group co-founded by Seventh Generation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Yestermorrow Design/Build School and supported by NRG Systems, William Maclay Architects and Planners, ICF International, Sweet Pea Natural Foods, American Flatbread, The Big Picture Theatre, and the Town of Warren.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On the Radio

I had two chances this month to chat with our good friend Rob Williams on the radio. First for Yestermorrow ( and later in the month for the Carbon Shredders ( Listen to these clips and also take time to register on to show your support for Yestermorrow ( and for the Carbon Shredders ( See you in Yestermorrowville.

Bob Ferris
Executive Director

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Art of Stone

Final class project - a stone arch in Waitsfield Village.
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Help us Celebrate the Completion of the 2008 Natural Building Intensive!

Yestermorrow and the Center for Whole Communities invite you to celebrate the Natural Building Intensive project at the Knoll Farm in Fayston, VT on Friday, July 25th from 4-6pm.
This year's Intensive project is a combination barn and workshop for the Farm, built as a demonstration of natural building systems emphasizing locally sourced materials, super-insulated walls, and traditional Vermont vernacular barn design. The barn features a traditional king-post timber frame and insulated natural wall systems including straw bale and woodchip clay infill.
Six students have completed the full 11-week program and will be receiving their Certificates in Natural Building on the 25th. They include: Nico Sardet, Nathan Lawson, Elizabeth Weiss, Benjamin Griffin, Julia Kirk and Ben Gould. The Intensive project was led by Yestermorrow instructor Jacob Deva Racusin along with eleven other instructors who came in to teach their individual specialties.
Please join us for the open house on the 25th. Call 802-496-5545 or email for directions or more information.

MOMA Show "Home Delivery"

A new show opened this week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York entitled "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling". This show, which runs through October 20th, features the Cellophane House, a project which Yestermorrow instructor Andy Schlatter has been involved with in the conceptual and design development of the project at KieranTimberlake Associates in Philadelphia. Cellophane House is a five-story, offsite fabricated dwelling commissioned by MOMA. The 1800 square-foot residence has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining space, a roof terrace, and a carport. You can also view a time-lapse photo animation of the project being assembled at Or head down to NY and see it for yourself!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pooling our Resources

Yestermorrow helped found the Carbon Shredders (, so we shudder a little each time we see a car or truck pull into our lot and only see the driver's seat occupied. It is not that we don't dearly love to see students and instructors come to our campus, but rather we hope that we take our current and future high fuel prices, as well as evidence of human-caused climate change, as a clarion call to take public transportation and, if that is not possible, to make every effort to carpool to Yestermorrow. We urge all students to check out the below carpooling link-up sites:

Or you could join the Yestermorrow FaceBook group and go trolling for a ride or rider there. Whatever your method, let's see what we can do to cut our collective carbon footprint, make the Yestermorrow experience a little more affordable for all, and make a fuller connection to the Yestermorrow community. And hopefully, once you get into this habit that you'll incorporate

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Accessible Architecture Brings People Together

On the 4th of July, Carlene and I visited with our friends Steven Ablondi and Cindy Burns who had just returned from South Africa where they are working to establish a permaculture settlement. They are doing some spectacular things with water management and also doing some experimental building. We were really impressed with the look they were able to achieve with rammed earth. Their mixture augmented with 3% cement yielded surfaces that looked much like sedimentary walls of sandstone. It was a really attractive treatment. And during the presentation I was really struck by the notion that natural building is really a form of architecture that is accessible to all.

Their team also built a small cob building with the help of six young women from the village. Everyone had great fun in the mud and they ended up with a structure in the process. While the buildings were impressive, the social implications in post-apartheid South Africa are probably more important. For one, the buildings demonstrate that attractive buildings can be made out of local materials and that people of means are willing to live the structures. These two factors could induce the local villagers to forgo less economically sustainable cinder block construction and undertake building with local, natural materials once again.

What's more, everyone in the settlement was invited to the celebration and open house held at the end of construction. Thus a combination of natural building and permaculture acted as the catalyst for the first fully integrated social gathering in the area.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Place Called Yestermorrowville

One of the wonders of the internet is that we can design/build electronically that which we cannot have in real life: Yestermorrowville. This is a “place” where we all of us live the way we sustainably should, carry on our pattern of learning, and continue the very same community interactions you experienced during your visit or visits to Yestermorrow. So let me give you a tour around Yestermorrowville.

First we will go to our newspaper the information hub of our community. This periodical is the Yestermorrow e-newsletter which lets you know the general happenings here on campus and elsewhere in our extended community. To subscribe to the e-newsletter click this link: and follow the instructions.

Yestermorrowville is also blessed with a magazine. Here the stories are longer in length and run the gambit from updates on projects, the accomplishments of alumni or instructors, or the wild ramblings of staff. The Yestermorrow Magazine is our blog and we welcome your stories and updates. Send them to Erin at and we will get your story out there.

As we travel farther down our electronic Main Street we come to the front porch of our general store. This is a place where discussions can be held and interactions reminiscent of talks around the YesterYum cafeteria are held. Right now this front porch is housed on my blog on the Greenopolis website Come sit on the porch with me for a while and we will see where our thoughts take us.

There is also sort of a soda fountain where chit-chat and whimsy abound. This is a place to share photos and catch up with former classmates and meet new ones. You might even have a dialog about ride sharing here. The soda fountain is our site on FaceBook join up and sit for a spell. You might see old friends or a 4th of July float or two.

We also have a movie theater in Yestermorrowville. Here we show short films about the school, our instructors, and videos of efforts we support or like. This is our YouTube Channel which has drama, content and a lot of other features thrown in for fun . Watch the videos and subscribe to the channel so you’ll be notified when new videos are added.

Yestermorrowville is all about adult and sometimes youth education. No trip to the “Ville” would be complete without seeing what is on the educational menu . Now there is more reason than ever to check this and check it often because we are going to be offering some special classes that won’t be listed in our catalog.

We also try to change the world at Yestermorrowville. We simply cannot help ourselves; we are basically do-gooders and it shows. Our current efforts in this area are two-fold. First, we are promoting a page that features Yestermorrow on the Changent site that will help encourage others to move to our beautifully designed and sustainable community. Join Changent and please sign on as a backer—and feel free to post as well. A true inhabitant of Yestermorrowville would also click on as backer on the Carbon Shredders page . This is an effort that Yestermorrow co-founded with Seventh Generation and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

So even if we cannot all live in Yestermorrowville physically, we can certainly do the next best thing. Come join us, introduce others to our community, and keep going on the life-long learning pathway you started on your first visit to Yestermorrow.

Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Natural Building Intensive Project Update

Our summer Natural Building Intensive is past the half-way mark in the completion of the barn project at the Center for Whole Communities at Knoll Farm. Starting in mid-May, the students got an overview of natural building techniques, harvesting and milling wood, building foundations, timberframing, carpentry, electrical, and stone masonry. Now they're in the midst of the two week block of natural wall building, creating infill walls with straw bales, wood chip clay and slip straw. Then they'll continue next week with insulation and plasters and finishes, and wrap up with an intensive week to work on additional punchlist items before graduation on July 25th.
Two students have been keeping blogs to document the project, which you can check out for photos and more detailed descriptions--
Elizabeth Weiss has created AbsolutGreen ( with a good overview and photos

Ben Griffin is working on a more detailed description of the various stages, as part of his degree program at Burlington College (he's getting credit for this summer's program). The site:

We Rolled Over the Competition

As usual the interns did us proud during this year's Warren 4th of July Parade. With the "Back to the Future" theme, the interns came up with the general concept of Yestermorrow: Reinventing the Wheel. Of course there were a few insider jokes about it being a Ferris Wheel which I may live down in a few months, but all-in-all it was a wonderful float worthy of many accolades. We can hardly wait to see what awards it won. Oh yes...and it was human powered, had its own theme music (think songs with the whel in them), was seen on YouTube and was made of 95% recycled materials. We would expect no less from our interns.
Bob Ferris

Monday, July 07, 2008

Former Intern Jessa Turner featured in the Kentucky Herald-Leader

One of Yestermorrow's former interns is making big waves down in Berea, Kentucky where she established HomeGrown HideAways, found online at, a year ago to teach others eco-friendly construction techniques. Jessa Turner (a summer 2006 intern from Berea College) is featured on the front page of today's Kentucky Herald-Leader ( profiling her work creating small homes using natural materials like earthbags, cob and straw bales. The article also features their truck, which has been converted to run on waste vegetable oil that they collect from local restaurants.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Parallel Evolution?

In evolutionary biology there are two related but different concepts. One is parallel evolution where two fairly closely related species develop similar adaptations independent of one another. The other concept is convergent evolution where two unrelated species develop similar adaptations independently. Examples of convergent evolution abound--the dorsal fins of sharks and dolphins are great examples of this concept.

I was thinking of parallel evolution this past weekend because I spent it with my cousin Michael Chandler (pictured with his wife Beth Williams), who I had never met before. Michael has worked on enviromental issues and also has a strong interest in green buildling. I run a design/build school and Michael runs a design/build firm in North Carolina. And we are both married to green architects/designer (OK, now I am getting a little ridiculous).

It was a good exercise to take Michael around and show him the Valley and the world of Yestermorrow. It helped me see a lot of what we do with his fresh and informed eyes. It also reenforced for me the value of providing a venue for growth and experimentation. And, quite frankly, a place where folks feel safe enough to fail once in a while. Yestermorrow is all about grand and glorious design and we are serious about sustainability but we also have our fair share of what Charles Darwin would have called "hopeful monsters." And that is just fine.

My cousin is also a contributor to Green Building Advisor along with Yestermorrow instructor John Abrams--check out their blog:

Also check out Michael's account of his visit at:

Bob Ferris
Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why We Teach the Way We Do!

When I was in seventh grade I took an art class. The woman who taught the class passed out paper and crayons and asked everyone to draw whatever came to mind. My parents had just returned from Hawaii and had regaled me with stories of an erupting volcano. Dad and looked at pictures of the event in Life magazine. And I wanted to draw a volcano in action.

So the mountain formed and the floes were sketched in. Then the crayon sort of went wild with abandon. The teacher seeing explosions—likely complete with sound effects—walked over to my desk and picked up my masterpiece and in her teacher voice said: This is exactly what we don’t want to see in this class! I stopped having an interest in drawing and painting on that day.

My wife has since helped me past this event and I am doing some drawings and a little painting—yes, a lot like a 7th grader—but I think this illustrates well the negative power of critique. And why our students are not subjected to this type of educational technique here at Yestermorrow. Here we work to enable and empower folks. The wonder of that is incredible, because you never know what someone is going to design or create. Another reason why I like to work at Yestermorrow.

Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 6 on the Road

The heat is coming back. We are all losing the will and/or ability to communicate. I can't remember whether I am talking about achitecture, climate change, toilet paper or coffee. All of us have become cross-trained via absorbtion. Why is bleach bad and fair trade good. How natural building projects attract attention and build communities. Why strawbale structures need great foundations and roofs. We all have each of these raps down and it is probably as much fun for me to watch someone from Seventh Generation or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters talk about the value of design/build and Yestermorrow as it is for them to watch me talk about their shade grown or recylced products...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Clear Skies with Clouds Rolling In....

Dead tired but satisfied. We've been talking to folks for nearly 35 hours, signed up about 2000 people and Jack Johnson's crew has just arrived to help us with our quest. We in Planet Roo are basically numb, but the energy here is incredible. Gregor Barnum (Seventh Generation), Jasna Brown (Green Mountain Coffee Roasters) and I are all loosing our voices and entering that nearly surreal state of the extreme fatigued and we go on the solar stage for the second time this evening at 6:30. When you get up there it feels so remote and like no one is listening but then someone comes up to tell you that they were moved by the message or the building or what is going on at PlanetRoo. It gives us hope.

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Then a Video...

It is not often that Yestermorrow gets coverage in the Tennessean and a video no less. Watch and Enjoy!

Bob Ferris

Hard Rain at Bonnaroo

Mud. It rained last night. Hard. And now we know that why local soils lend themselves to natural building: They are full of clay and sticky. The rain has damped us in many, many ways. The challenge of designing communities for lots and lots of people in a small space becomes more apparent when stresses and oversubscribed systems come into play. Now that everyone is here and the lines at toilets are really, really long we are seeing problems. There is trash everywhere and littering is taken to an art form and level not seen since before Iron Eyes Cody wept in the 1970. I think that much of the unconsciousness is chemically induced and clearly drugs are all around as we have had to ask dealers to not use our camp chairs and awning as a place to conduct business. Watching all this I am struck by what a living laboratory this place is as we contemplate how we might deal with disasters large and small.

The communal sinks look like Bangkok sewers which have become for us an allegory about the lack of folks taking personal responsibility for their environment. The sinks became plugged because the discarded packets from shampoo samples covered the drain. No one was watching. No one wanted to be the sacrificial hand that dove into the muck and solved the problem for all. Perhaps they did not care or did not know how to solve this simple plumbing problem. It really drives home for me how important what we teach, preach and live at Yestermorrow is and will be.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Morning Two

Baked awake by the sun at 6 or so. Came too early as we were at the booth until nearly 1 AM. Stumbled home to the tent to the strains of Lez Zepelin an all female Led Zep cover band. Great end of a very long day. At the morning meet up this AM there was a little less spring in everyone's step. But we all cheered when we saw the coverage of our post office in this morning New York Times blog.

Wahoo. I am so proud of the Yestermorrow crew. We continue to build in a manner that draws attention!


PS it is still steaming here, but got a shower this morning. Everyone is grateful.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yestermorrow's First Federal Building

We have had our first case of heat stroke in the group and I have not showered for three days (tough on me and also the folks around me). But I am happy because I just realized that with the hanging of the United States Postal Service banner, Yestermorrow had (I believe) constructed its first federal building. And boy is the place attracting folks. I suppose that it no surprise because Yestermorrow structures have been attracting attention for nearly three decades--the fact that this is likely the first post office whose underlying concept is a cowboy hat helps. Yestermorrow instructor and Bonnaroo organizer Russ Bennett is behind the design.

But Wait! There's More!

Here's a link to a "Road to Bonnaroo" blog post from Carbon Shredder Gregor Barnum, and some of his photos as well.

The Festival is About to Start

We went to sleep last night with heat lightening in the sky. Wonderful visuals, but made me think of climate change and the chemical and geophysical war that is being fought in our atmosphere. We need to do better with our buildings, how we live and how we design our communities.

We woke with a city growing around us. By this evening we will be 100,000. There is a lot to learn from this construct. We are basically a musical refugee camp. Lots of folks living very, very close together—no we are not being tortured or displaced but we are here because of our thoughts and common likes. We are living light with few possessions and taking less showers and using less energy. It feels good, but is challenging. We know our bliss would be shattered if not supported by heavy importation of food, water, and other services. Gives us a flavor of empathy but not reality. And I am either getting older or my air mattress is getting thinner.

We are in the Green Pod # 3 so we are in and around some folks who think like us. Our nearest neighbor is a green bus from Dartmouth so we are an environmental leaning New England enclave. The Clif Bar bus is down the way and they are pushing low carbon as well. Lots of conversations about what is wrong how we can solve it. Mainly they all come back to the thought that we are trying to treat symptoms and need to look more at root causes and cures. We need to find a way to heal ourselves and we need to start now.

It is cooler this morning but the heat is building and all of us are scouting out the best shade spots which are few. We are saving our voices to talk to thousands of folks over the noises of PlanetRoo and booming bass from the Solar Stage.

They are hammering on the Post Office now and hoping to finish the roof before it rains. So it goes with design/build everywhere....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We Made It

After 24 hours in our version of the Magic Bus, we are sweating at Bonnaroo. Don't want to sweat too much because the showers here are $10.

We are recovering from the drive and setting up our booth. Gregor Barnum from Seventh Generation and I are sitting on hay bales madly blogging away in site of the nearly completed Post Office which is full of past and future Yestermorrowians. Great fun and Orion has already given me on very muddy handshake.

There are connections all over the place. Gary our bus driver worked with Art Schaller and Mac Rood 15 years ago on Yestermorrow's project on the Sioux reservation and the back up driver is Ken Oldrid a Yestermorrow biofuels instructor. We were all very nervous about getting here on time and it was looking like we were going to miss our mark by about an hour, but then we gained an hour with the time zone change and squeezed in under the wire.

The energy of the both crew is incredible. Everyone is talking about how to live a less impactful life. We are reducing our waste on the trip, composting our other waste and counselling each and all on what to buy and not.

The trip was supposed to take 20 hours but we had some challenges finding vegetatable oil and B-100 biodiesel. It was a pain but OK because we now is the time to stretch ourselves so we can begin to make a real difference.

As someone associated with education with a sustainability message, I believe it is very important to set an example and do it in a manner that is meaningful. We are doing that here at Bonnaroo and will greet and send our message tomorrow to a population that could reach 100,000 folks.

A drum circle is beating in the backgroud as we get back to our booth and watch the folks finish the post office. Talk to you soon.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Here We Go! Carbon Shredders

Boy is it hot. The fudgecicles are being passed out in the office as I am packing up catalogs, writing an op-ed for Thursday's valley paper and anxiously getting ready to plop myself and my wife on a non-air-conditioned bus powered by veggie oil, bio-diesel and good intensions.

We are heading to Bonnaroo to sell folks on the need to change the way they live and come up to Vermont to Yestermorrow to learn how to do that with buildings and communities. We are going to hang out in the heat and humidity with 80,000 other souls, including 14 employees from Seventh Generation and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters who will help Jasna, Gregor and Carlene, and I staff our both at PlanetRoo. (Oh Yeah and we might even hear some music from the likes of Jack Johnson and Metallica!)

So come see us at Bonnoroo or live vicariously through our blog postings or the Bonnaroo website as well. And visit the Solar Bus site as too because you might just see a picture of instructor supremo Skip Dewhirst on that solar powered site.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Way to Go Elizabeth!!!

It is wonderful to see our students do well. And Elizabeth has done very well. Congratulations on this article that appeared in The Eagle-Tribune on June 4th. And given Yestermorrow's strong current and historic ties to Yale and the fact that my father is also a graduate of the Governor's Academy (nee Governor Dummer) make it even nicer. We look forward to seeing more of this series!

Bob Ferris

TINY HOUSE: Wanted: 132 square feet of home Governor's Academy alumna has blueprint for a project that's warm, green — and snug

By Victor Tine, Staff writer

This is going to be one busy summer for Elizabeth Turnbull.

The 2000 graduate of The Governor's Academy in Byfield is working "almost full time" for O'Neil Fine Builders of Beverly, a build-and-design company. And she's also building the house she will live in when she goes to graduate school at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in August.

The thing is, she's building the house in Byfield. On the grounds of her alma mater. On a flat-bed trailer. When she's done, she's going to haul it down to New Haven and find a place for it to go.
It's going to be tiny — the interior living space will be just 7 feet, 4 inches wide by 18 feet long, or 132 square feet. That's a snug fit for Turnbull, who is 5 feet, 113/4 inches tall.
And it's going to be green — energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

"I am going to be studying urban ecology and environmental design and, without sounding too hokey, I'm interested in living that experience," Turnbull said. "This is an opportunity."
"Also, I don't love the idea of paying rent," she said.

She has set up the used trailer she bought at the academy's maintenance area on Middle Road and took delivery of the lumber late last week.

The 25-year-old Turnbull has never built a house before, but she took a furniture building course for three years at Colby College in Maine. "I loved it," she said. She has also taken a two-week home design and build course at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vt.
She's pretty excited about the project, and she hopes other people will be, too. Between now and her departure for Yale, she's planning five "TinyRaisings" work parties. She'll invite people to help her work, maybe take a break for a swim at Plum Island, and then treat them to a barbecue afterward.

"It would be really cool to get community people involved," she said.
Turnbull estimates it would cost her about $14,000 to rent an apartment for the two years she will spend studying for her master's degree in environmental management at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. At first, she thought she could build her tiny house for a comparable sum, but she's learned eco-friendly materials can be more costly than conventional construction. She is looking for donations of building materials and tools.

Her lumber has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization that encourages responsible and sustainable forest management. Certified lumber costs about 17 percent more than conventional board.

She plans to set the house's studs at 24 inches apart, rather than the usual 16, to save on weight and building materials.

She expects to use recycled and reclaimed windows. Since they have already been constructed, it consumes no additional energy to make them. That reduces what she called the "embodied energy" of the building.

Turnbull also intends to use nontoxic paints and adhesive wherever possible.
"It's hard to find those materials and hard to afford them," she said, estimating that a can of paint without toxins costs twice as much as regular paint.

The tiny house will be solar-powered and well insulated with natural materials.
"If it's a cold winter, I expect to spend $200 for heat," she said.
She will use LED and halogen lights, which, she said, "sip very gently on your power supply."
The Governor's Academy has been highly supportive of her project, giving her the space to work and encouragement. "Everybody has been unbelievable," she said.
Turnbull doesn't expect the tiny house to be 100 percent completed when she leaves for grad school. Some things, plumbing for example, will depend partly on the site she chooses for the house. But she expects the house to be "eminently livable" by August.
After she gets her degree in 2010, Turnbull said there are a number of professional job possibilities.

"I would like to continue exploring and improving the built environment," she said.
But she thinks she'll want to hang onto the tiny house. She might use it as her office.
"I don't think it will ever be done, that it will ever come to a point where I say nothing more needs to be done," she said.

The making of Tiny House

This is the first in a series of stories on the Tiny House. The Daily News will be following the progress of Elizabeth Turnbull and her green house every two weeks until August when she leaves for Yale with her new home.

Turnbull has also started a blog about the project — — to let people know how it's going.

The Turnbull File
Age 25
Grew up in West Virginia
Moved to Massachusetts after freshman year in high school
Lives in Beverly
2000 graduate of The Governor's Academy
2004 graduate of Colby College, Waterville, Maine
Has worked at alternative energy consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
Campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004
Has bicycled across the United States and Europe
Elizabeth Turnbull is inviting anyone who is interested in helping her build her house to five weekend work parties. The schedule is:

June 21 and 22
June 28 and 29
July 12 and 13
July 26 and 27
Aug. 2 and 3

E-mail her at to sign up.

Eco-friendly factors
Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber
Studs 24 inches apart, rather than 16
Recycled windows
Solar power
LED (light-emitting diode) and halogen lights
Nontoxic paints and adhesives
Insulation with natural materials
Minimal reliance of fossil fuels

Friday, May 30, 2008

Play House "R" Us

One of the real joys of working at Yestermorrow (and there are many) is introducing folks to buildings that are well-designed and functional. We like doing that for people of all ages, but we really love it when those buildings impact the lives of the littlest among us. And that was certainly the case when a class recently built a playhouse for the Warren Elementary School. Those who delivered the small building to the
school told us tales about children waiting in line to be among the first to enter this delightful, right-scaled play space. Thanks to the parents of Warren School students for raising the money for this project and the students of the Yestermorrow Basic Carpentry class for raising the roof--and other parts--of this handcrafted cottage.

Thanks for NYC

As I sit here taking a breath between the NYC event, preparing for our next Board meeting, and ironing out arrangements for our planned trip to Bonnaroo, I wanted to take a moment to thank all the folks who came, helped or otherwise made the NYC event at the Tribeca Cinema the success that it was. The board, staff, intructors and yester-friends (old and new) came out in scores to celebrate Yestermorrow's inclusion in Metropolitan Home's Design 100 listing for 2008.
The event (and dinner afterwards) was great fun as was the Metropolitan Home shindig the following evening. Lots of rain and another time I had to wear a tie, but it was gratifying to see a Yestermorrow project flashed up on the video screen along with 99 other stars from the global design world. I had to duck a few times to avoid getting poked in the eye by a woman who was wearing an elegantly sculptured hat complete with trailing pheasant feather, but I was able to bob and weave and still enjoy this wonderful event.

So thanks especially to Erin, Dan, Monica and Kate for assembling this grand event and to board members Bill Bialosky, Kyle Bergman, Hannah Purdy and Stephen Kellert who really opened their roledexes to bring us a crowd. And special thanks also to artists Bill Brauer, James Hubbell, and former board member Art Schaller who all donated artworks to the event's silent auction. Many, many thanks all around.

Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Friday, May 23, 2008

ReadyMade: Great Escape

Take a moment to catch this great article and photo spread on Yestermorrow in the June/July issue of ReadyMade magazine. Our school and instructors clearly made a big impression. The article is part of an overview of summer learning excursions.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Music and Mud at Bonnaroo

Former Yestermorrow Design/Build School interns Amorin Mello and Anne Marie Flusche are heading up a team to build a strawbale post office on the 700 acre Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival site in Manchester, Tennessee ( They still need a few folks with natural building skills to help so if you are interested in a muddy and musical experience visit their FaceBook page ( to get details on what you can expect from the experience. But act fast because mudslingers have to be on site by the 6th of June.
And if you do go you might see many Yestermorrowians in the crowd because the Mad River CarbonShredders might be making an appearence, Buzz Ferver (board member and instuctor) will be helping with the compost operation on site, and Russ Bennett (instructor) is one of the moving forces behind the event.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Summer 2008 interns are on their way...

We are getting ready for the summer season at Yestermorrow and looking forward to the arrival of our summer session interns-- Erin Campbell, Colin Widdoes, Laura Fedderson, Matt Wolpe and Bob O'Hara. They're all making their way towards Vermont and will be arriving this coming weekend. You can read their bios on our website at:

Friday, May 09, 2008

Yestermorrow named to Metropolitan Home magazine's Design 100

If you're familiar with Yestermorrow, you know that Yestermorrow is unique. Indeed, one in a million.

Now Yestermorrow is being honored for it's one-of-a-kind-ness. Yestermorrow has been chosen by the editorial staff at Metropolitan Home magazine as 1 of the 100 best and most interesting designers, design elements or locations of the past year. Published annually, the Metropolitan Home's Design 100 list is an “admittedly quixotic collage of the 100 most noteworthy objects, events and personalities in the world of design.”

Join us for a special reception in New York City to celebrate this award and the many achievements of our special design/build school. Our "1 in 100 Reception" takes place May 19 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Gallery at Tribeca Cinemas. You can find more information here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Big Ideas about Small Spaces, by Andreas Stavropoulos

I am pleased to introduce a new course for Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Designing Small Living Spaces is a course that has been years in the making.

The origin of the course lies in the frustration of bigness. Bigness, to borrow the term from Rem Koolhaus, permeates all aspects of American culture. Bigness of portions, bigness of vehicles, and bigness in homes are just a few, and they are leading to bigness of problems. Sadly, bigness begets bigness, and, until now, there were few constraints of just how big that bigness could get. In the last 50 years our culture has been flooded with propaganda equating size with quality, explicitly encouraged by big business and tacitly condoned by the government.

However, of late, there have been many big signs that all is not well in our culture of bigness. The recent big drop in the stock market, as well as the big credit crunch, have given us big cause for concern. Big increases in oil prices and food prices may cause big changes in the way that we fuel ourselves and our transportation. At the same time that we are painfully discovering these limits to bigness, there are a number of rapidly growing small movements afoot. A doubling in the number of farmer's markets over the past 5 years is a big step in the direction of smallness. Big advances in wind power technology and solar are allowing more power to be produced on a local scale.

So when I proposed a class to teach some big ideas about smallness, Yestermorrow was enthusiastic, of course, in a big way.

Designing Small Living Spaces is offered as a week-long course at Yestermorrow as way to demonstrate that quality design can allow us to design, build and get big rewards out of small spaces. In the course, we will look at domestic and international examples of how cultures and individuals have designed small dwellings. Some of the dwellings are iconoclastic while others are miniaturized versions of the white picket fence concept. We'll look at students' individual situations, and generate big ideas on how to solve them. We'll generate small sparks of genius and deliver big doses of encouragement as students work together to apply big ideas to small spaces.

(Andreas X. Stavropoulos is an airstream-dweller, cargo trailer remodeler, tipi aficionado who works by day as a landscape architect to combat bigness by designing small spaces for people in Berkeley, CA)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yestermorrow Instructor Featured at Longwood Gardens

If life is driving you up a tree this spring, you might take a trip to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania (visit and check out their treehouse exhibition--three very cool arbor abodes. If you like what you see and want to build one of your own, there is no better place to come than Yestermorrow. In fact, one of the lead builders of the Longwood structures is our very own Eyrich Stauffer. And he and Erik Hegre will teaching a class in Sustainable Treehouse Design and Construction on May 4-11th.

Other Yestermorrowians working on this project include:

Ben Cheney (YM instructor and former intern 2003)
Jay Tarlecki (intern 2006)
Christian Peterson (intern 2005)
Eric Stevens (alumnus)
Dan Wheeler (intern 2007)
Josh Jackson (instructor)
Skip Dewhirst (instructor)

Congratulations to all of you on job well done!

Bob Ferris

Instructor Ben Falk Featured on

Yestermorrow instructor Ben Falk was recently profiled on along with his business Whole Systems Design of Moretown, VT. Falk teaches a variety of courses at Yestermorrow, including Design for Climate Change and Biofuels. Read the full article here. Congratulations Ben!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Let's Face It!

With social networking being all the rage, how could Yestermorrow be left behind? The answer to that question is: We just won't. So now in among the sundry alumni pages featured on Facebook you will now find a Yestermorrow page too.

Visit the page. Sign up and start communicating with your fellow Yestermorrowites (Yestermorrowians?).


Bob Ferris

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yestermorrow Seeks Campus Master Planning Intern

We have a special opportunity which has recently come to our attention. As you may have heard, we are embarking on the first phase of our expansion plan to build a new shop in the spring of 2009. We have just sent out an RFP to recruit an integrated design/build firm to lead this process. Plus we are still continuing to refine our campus master plan which the folks from the Conway School of Landscape Design helped us with last year.

We are looking for a special Yestermorrow intern to work under the direction of the Building and Grounds committee to help prepare site plans, document our existing conditions, and help with the permitting and planning process. This could count for IDP credits (for architecture students). Ideally we’d like to find someone who can commit to 20 hours/week for 4 months, but could also work with someone for a shorter time period more intensively if it worked better for their schedule. We don't have lodging available on campus but could offer a camping spot or help you find a place in town.
We are still working out some of the details, but if you're interested in learning more about this new opportunity, please email

Here’s the scope of the project as we have defined it so far:
1) Creating a unified format set of plans of the various master plans and visions over the past 10 years.
2) Gathering all current base information, and putting it in uniform format- Survey and topo info, ANR GIS info, soils, hydrology, vegetation. Updating more detailed mapping of the "campground" and other misc structures and gardens, trails, etc. Updated plans of the chalet existing conditions. Updated plans of the school building existing conditions. All official permit plans and Act 250 submission, wastewater and water permitting information, etc.
3) Developing massing, grading, and site layout for the school zone master plan. Developing utilities infrastructure plan for the campus. Develop a base "permaculture plan" for the central green and school zone areas, including locating existing trees and making a plan as to which stay and which go.
4) Develop a soft costs budget, to further planning, engineering, and permitting that will be necessary to make progress with plans.
5) Develop models, plans, CAD models, etc that will be useful in fundraising efforts.
The Campus Master Planning intern will work under the guidance of the Buildings and Grounds committee (which meets approximately bi-weekly) and document the process of the committee.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Go AIA, Go Green

A few years ago I attended my wife's 20-year reunion for a year that she spent overseas in Florence, Italy. This was an arts and architecture year abroad so many attending the event in Venice (CA) were now architects including my wife. As I cruised around the party I talked with many architects and asked them how often their designs included solar panels. As this event was in Southern California, I was surprised that the response was often: We love solar panels and will include them in our designs as long as our clients as for them.
I was a little taken aback. If architects are not aggressively recommending solar panels, who will? While I was going through this, the AIA (American Institute of Architects) was also taking a look at how green building and sustainability were being taught at architecture schools. Their conclusions were similar to mine: more needed to be done in this arena. Architects need to know about sustainability and green building and need to sell it in the same breath that they are selling good design.

My response to this need has been to push our students at Yestermorrow Design/Build School harder and harder as it relates to these important educational threads--and to offer more courses in these areas. And the AIA's response is outlined below. Great move AIA, please let us know how we can help!

CES Sustainability Requirement – NEW!

During the March 2008 AIA National Board of Directors meeting, it was approved that beginning January 1, 2009 the AIA would require all members to complete four (4) hours of sustainable design. These 4 Sustainable Design (SD) hours would be included as part of the current 8 hour / HSW requirement. They are not additional hours to the 18/8 LU hours that the AIA already requires. This requirement would run until 2012, at which time it will be evaluated.
The AIA is currently finalizing the rules of Sustainable Design (SD) Learning Units. During the course of this summer the AIA/CES will be establishing the infrastructure for CES providers to determine, register, and report their future continuing education courses to qualify for Sustainable Design (SD) learning units. These rules will be based upon the following definition.
Sustainable Design (SD) Learning UnitsSustainable design is achieved through an integrated design and delivery process that enhances the natural and built environment by using energy sensibly with a goal toward carbon neutrality, improves air and water quality, protects and preserves water and other resources, and creates environments, communities and buildings that are livable, comfortable, productive, diverse, safe, and provide enduring value to our community and society as a whole.

To qualify as Sustainable Design learning units, the content must meet 4 thresholds:
It must address the AIA definition of sustainability.
It must be a structured (third-party) program (i.e. no self-study).
At least 75% of program content must qualify as HSW.
Its primary purpose must address at least one of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Measures of Sustainable Design and Performance Metrics
Examples: Design & Innovation; Regional/Community Design; Land Use & Site Ecology; Bioclimatic Design; Light & Air; Water Cycle; Energy Flows & Energy Future; and Materials & Construction to reduce product-cycle environmental impacts and optimize occupant health and comfort.

If you feel that your CES Provider courses will qualify as Sustainable Design (SD) learning units please plan on providing that information to the AIA/CES Records Center this fall once we announce the procedures. Additional progress reports will be offered in coming issues of the CES Provider Connection as well as the AIA/CES website. NO action is necessary at this time.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Invest in Something Positive

The coming paper flurry known as the economic stimulus checks will tempt many Americans to apply those checks towards the frivolous and ephemeral. We at Yestermorrow would urge all to take a moment and take a breath before casting this "bread" on just any passing waters. Our counsel would be to invest that money in change for the better. So what would that be? How about plunking it down to support your local farmer's market or a non-profit trying to make a difference in your neighborhood or the world (hint: Yestermorrow)? Or how about investing in yourself through taking a class at somewhere that will change your life (hint: Yestermorrow).

This idea of enriching the world or your small chunk of the globe with these funds is catching fire and groups such as Keep it in Vermont ( are full of great ideas of how you can invest these funds locally in a manner that will last much longer than that cashmere sweater or weekend at the spa. Pony up and be the change.