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.

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