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 21, 2009

Happy Holidays from all of us at Yestermorrow!

(and Heidi too- missing from this photo)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On Sale - Meditation Temple to Benefit Scholarship Fund

The meditation temple pictured above is now available for sale at the cost of $1,000 to benefit the Yestermorrow Scholarship Fund. Built from salvaged material, with hundreds of invested hours, this dynamic piece is an excellent example of micro-architecture and as a space can help facilitate quiet reflection.

About the designer/builder:

Aaron Westgate first came to Yestermorrow in 2005, as an enthusiastic intern with a strong sense that the school was doing something unique and essential. Four years and sixteen classes later, he is just as enthusiastic and now completely convinced about the importance of the school’s mission and its ability to influence people to create a better world.

"Yestermorrow taught me about design/build as a curriculum, but also as a philosophy. Think and do, visualize and create; deeply understand context and materials while you explore outside-the-box creativity; let your hands and your head and your heart all mutually reinforce each other. These lessons are by no means confined to architecture and construction. My work is focused on exploring design through the lenses of beauty, functionality, and sustainability. I’m currently building a modern home in Montpelier, and experimenting with salvaged materials to create meditation temples. I'm fascinated by the idea of architecture-for-enlightenment - the concept of designing spaces that facilitate personal peace so that we may engage in the world with more awareness and compassion."

For more information contact Aaron directly at

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Art Show Preview

These are just a selection of the many amazing handcrafted items that will be on auction this Saturday evening at the 5th Annual Yestermorrow Art Show and Sale. Please join us! Live auction starts at 8:00pm.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Time for Giving

Dear friends,

As climate change and its effects become part of our national dialogue, there is great opportunity for Yestermorrow to solidify its position as the leader in green building education.
  • Training for Tomorrow: Yestermorrow is poised to launch innovative new programs to train designers, builders, homeowners and emerging professionals.
  • Leading the Way: Members of our faculty have received national recognition for their leadership in regenerative and high performance design, natural building, and craftsmanship.

  • Walking the Talk: We’re transitioning our campus from oil dependence to renewable energy, installing cutting-edge solar thermal and photovoltaic systems for power and heat.
  • Community Impact: We’re reaching out into the community and partnering with local organizations like the Vermont Foodbank and Housing Vermont to provide expertise and labor for their building projects.

We believe that educating homeowners and professionals about the sustainable design/build process is a critical step in creating strong, healthy, vibrant communities. We are teaching the leaders of tomorrow. But to succeed in this work we need your support.

Your contribution today will finance:

  • The development of a semester-long program in sustainable design/build
  • Campus renovations to improve current facilities and provide additional lodging options
  • Outreach to, and scholarships for, new populations of students currently underserved by our education system

Your contribution is critical to furthering our mission of creating positive change in our community and beyond. A donation to Yestermorrow is a commitment towards creating a more just and sustainable future. Please donate today.


Kate Stephenson
Executive Director

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GI Bill Benefits Good for Certificate Program

Yestermorrow is thrilled to announce that veterans of the U.S. military are now eligible to use their GI Bill benefits for coursework. The Vermont State Approving Agency has approved Yestermorrow’s Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design and Natural Building Certificate for the education and training of eligible military personnel, veterans and their dependents. For more information, please visit or call 888-442-4551 to find out how to enroll in the program.

Building Green Suite offer

We are excited once again to offer a special opportunity to friends of Yestermorrow -- discounted annual subscriptions to the BuildingGreen Suite for only $50! The normal retail price for this subscription is $199.00 and this offer is available only through a special bulk buy program if together we have more than 25 subscriptions. This program is not limited specifically to Yestermorrow so if you have friends or colleagues that you think would be interested as well, please spread the word!

The BuildingGreen Suite ( of online tools gives you the best information on green design in a subscription-based Web site format. This online resource features comprehensive, practical information on a wide range of topics related to sustainable building--from energy efficiency and recycled-content materials to land-use planning and indoor air quality.The BuildingGreen Suite integrates online versions of GreenSpec, Environmental Building News, and a database of more than 100 high-performance building case studies. This wealth of information is searchable and cross-referenced by CSI MasterFormat division, LEEDT credit, or green topic. Each article, product listing, and case study also lists related content and information sources.BuildingGreen Suite subscribers can also access the Environmental Building News (EBN) print resources at a substantial discount.

HOW TO SIGN UP:Once we have your money in hand ($50 per person) we will get a list of activation codes which we will distribute to everyone who is taking advantage of this great Yestermorrow/EBN offer and you'll be able to choose your own user name and password. If you have a current Building Green subscription, and want to use this offer to renew/extend your subscription, that's fine too. Contact to sign up. This is a limited time offer- after the December 1st we will likely not be putting together another bulk subscription this year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Winter Term Classes

Turn the lull of winter vacation into a valuable learning opportunity with one of our upcoming Winter Term courses--a great educational experience in the context of a tropical paradise or a winter wonderland! It's you're pick, as we are continuing to offer our popular courses Design/Build in the Dominican Republic, Natural Design/Build, and Raising the Bar on Sustainable Design.

Deadline for enrollment to the Dominican Republic is fast approaching and we have just a few spots left. Please help spread the word!

Design/Build in the Dominican Republic

This 18-day design/build adventure will focus on building a unique community project in a rural part of the Dominican Republic. This year’s class will take place on the edge of Los Haitises National Park. Students will create a new pedestrian entrance to the park that will ultimately be utilized by the people of the local village of Gonzalo as a meeting site for eco-tourism expeditions into the Park. The class begins with a group design process culminating in a single design emanating from the collective ideas of the participants. The remainder of the course is an intensive sprint to build what has been designed, utilizing local, environmentally appropriate materials, while allowing the design and building processes to continually inform one another. This class will take place in a remote context; with rustic lodging, limited or no electricity, lots of nature, and tons of hard work. It will be the experience of a lifetime, providing an immersion into a unique Afro-Caribbean island culture, while fostering community development through hands-on action that meets the needs and furthers the goals of a grass roots organization. Tuition includes travel within the Dominican Republic, camping facilities in wall tents, and all meals.

View a slideshow from the 2008 class:

View a slideshow from the 2007 class:

Natural Design/Build

This course provides students with a comprehensive exploration of all facets of creating an energy efficient, climate-specific natural structure. In this two-week intensive, we will engage in studio sessions, hands-on construction experience, lectures, slide shows, and site tours. In the studio, students will develop a comprehensive design of a project through the creation of drawings of elevations, sections, plans, and scale models. In the shop, students will build a variety of insulative wall systems, examining critical details such as doors and windows, wall to roof connections, air sealing, framing options, plastering, and much more. Topics include straw bale construction, fiber-clay infill and other natural wall systems, clay and lime plasters, natural roof options, alternative foundations, water and energy conservation systems, permaculture and building-site relationships, and social and cultural contexts. Emphasis will be paid to designing and detailing for success in cold, wet climates. Beginner to Intermediate.

Raising the Bar on Sustainable Design: Designing for Beauty and Sustainability

This intensive course guides students through the process of designing their homes and landscapes to be harmonious, efficient and resilient. In the face of a changing climate and economy, we have the ability to shape our lives in a way that provides the comforts we want along with the food, water and energy security that we need. This course will help each student to develop beautiful and affordable plans for localized sustainability.

We will review historical and contemporary design solutions and technologies in order to help each student find their threshold for design response. We’ll focus on integrated-design: how to create multiple benefits with single expenditures. How can the landscape provide perennial food and regulate temperature? How much energy and money can you save with extra insulation and high-performance windows? What techniques can you use to improve comfort and dramatically reduce resource consumption?

This class will build on Yestermorrow's time tested model of Design/Build to focus participants on designing custom projects that demonstrate advanced performance. The class will be split between lecture and application, with many of Yestermorrow's preeminent instructors adding their expertise. Students will leave the course understanding best-practices for sustainable design and plans for the project of their dreams. Beginner to Intermediate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Requesting Submissions for "30th Anniversary" Logo

In 2010 we will be able to add to our list of accomplishments thirty years of inspiring people through hands-on education in building and design. Thus, in effort to celebrate our coming of age we are now soliciting design submissions for our 30th Anniversary logo. The prize for a selected design, aside from the glory, is a free one-week Yestermorrow class! The guidelines for entries are as follows:

-Your design should be inspired by Yestermorrow and incorporate some mention of the 30th Anniversary. Additionally it should take the opportunity to riff on, adjust, or completely rethink the logo, suggesting a coming of age.

-Your design should be printable on t-shirt (one-sided). It should be monochromatic or two-tone. And be universally attractive, something that everyone non-Yestermorrow folk would want to wear.

-It would be great if your submission is in some Adobe format (like Photoshop, Illustrator, or PDF). Submissions should be no larger than 5mb. If selected we will contact you for a higher resolution copy.

-Your design should be completely original.

Have fun, and we look froward to seeing your entries. Deadline for submission to is (extended to January 31st, 2009).

(We can send you an Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop t-shirt template to get you started and/or our style guide)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thinking About Energy

This week has brought a flurry of thought to Yestermorrow about energy. On Tuesday I attended the monthly meeting of the LocalVolts- the energy subcommittee of the Valley Futures Network. One of the volunteers unveiled the Mad River Valley Energy Wiki- an amazingly information-filled resource about energy-related projects happening around here. There are folks looking at biomass- how much wood could we sustainably harvest from within the valley, and how would we distribute it; others are looking at energy conservation and weatherization; still more are interested in barn-raising type events to help homeowners install solar hot water and photovoltaics. Pretty neat!

On Thursday I was lucky enough to tag along with the Farm Design class for the morning on a field trip to see Gaelan and Jasna Brown's experimental woodchip water heater affectionately nicknamed "the brown mound". Based on what's called the "Jean Pain Method" they have created a large packed pile of wet woodchips with a coil of 1" water pipe in the middle which preheats the water coming out of their well before it goes into their hot water heater. So far he's been getting water out at 120 degrees F. In addition to domestic hot water, they're hoping eventually they could use it for space heating as well. Gaelan has been blogging and documenting the whole process in order to help spread the word about this fascinating low-tech system- check it out!

Back at Yestermorrow everyone was buzzing over lunch about how we might get involved here at the school. One possibility is to run a workshop with Gaelan next summer and create a woodchip pile for the Chalet's hot water. While the current focus on campus is getting our solar hot water system and PV array installed this winter, we also started talking about how we could transition to solid fuels for heating our main building (right now we have high efficiency propane boilers). That's a bigger project, obviously, but one worth starting to think about as we plan our campus expansion. On November 23rd from 7-9 pm we'll host a free Button Up Vermont workshop for the local community to learn about energy conservation and money saving techniques to weatherize your home. The interns have been tackling the Chalet (certainly a weatherization challenge) and already it's more comfortable and better equipped for the dropping temperatures to come, and we've started replacing our 30-year old donated refrigerators with new Energy Star rated models, amongst other energy efficiency improvements.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yestermorrow goes solar

After years of dreaming about how we could produce more of our own energy, we're thrilled to be implementing two major renewable energy projects on the Yestermorrow campus.

In September we learned we'd been awarded one of the Vermont Community Climate Change Grants to install a solar hot water system for our domestic hot water use (kitchen, showers, etc). We've received $11,850 from the state for this project, and are partnering with GroSolar to design the system which we hope to install in the next couple of months. It will include 6 flat plate collectors mounted on the east side of the roof of the main building and a couple hundred gallons of super insulated storage tanks in the basement. In addition to lessening our fossil fuel consumption (we currently use propane to heat our hot water), we are also hoping this project will provide an educational demonstration site for people interested in learning more about solar hot water systems. We'll have informative signage on all the equipment and will run a solar hot water workshop in conjunction with the installation, so stay tuned for more details on that learning opportunity.

On Friday we also signed an agreement with Earth Turbines in Williston, VT to install a 32kW photovoltaic array at Yestermorrow. This installation through their All Sun Trackers lease program allows us to purchase the solar energy produced by the PV panels through net metering via a 5-year lease. The 32kW installation is expected to generate close to 45,000 kWh of electricity per year- enough to cover Yestermorrow's annual electricity consumption for the entire campus. The panels are what's known as "solar trackers"- ground mounted panels which move with the sun across the sky to maximize the amount of energy they create. We're currently in the process of finalizing the tracker locations, permitting and obtaining a certificate of public good from the state of VT, but if all goes well we'll have the panels installed by the end of the year.

We'll be documenting both projects extensively and posting photos to the blog as we move forward.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Less is More" Instructor Featured in Dwell Magazine

"Less is More" instructor, Andreas Stavropoulos recently featured in Dwell Magazine.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

RE:Shade - October 9th, 5:30p

Instructor and friend Dee Nicholas will be showing her installation RE:Shade at UPenn in the Philly Works exhibit. Please join her for the open house this Friday October 9th, from 5:30p - 11p at Meyerson Hall (34th & Spruce in Philadelphia).

Part of the genesis of this project was an installation at Yestermorrow last summer, using this found materials-based process as part of the work.

For more on the work visit her website:

Friday, October 02, 2009

Yestermorrow Featured in New York Times "T Magazine" design issue

We were thrilled to host journalist Mark Rozzo back in July for a few days on campus, and he wrote a great article about Yestermorrow for the New York Times T Magazine. The issue is finally hitting newsstands this weekend (Sunday 10/4 issue), but if you want a sneak preview, the article "Hammer Time" is online--

Moose Sighting!

Dave Warren, our facilities manager, took some sweet shots of a moose near the intern chalet.

The big fella walked right up to him...

...and then went casually on his way.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Day in the Life of Yestermorrow

We were lucky to have local photographer Spencer Leonard of Warren come by last week to capture some of our classes in action and campus during fall foliage. Check out these wonderful shots!

Nina Dubois: LAND/ART 2009

Thank you to Yestermorrow alumna Nina Dubois for sharing photos of her most recent site project at the University of New Mexico Art Museum. Dispersal/Return: Land Arts of the American West 2000–2006 is an open exhibit that runs from August 28 – November 25, 2009 and has commissioned Nina for her piece, in collaboration with Jeanette Hart-Mann, entitled Culture Digest(e). The piece is a site-specific art laboratory that explores the waste stream of the University of New Mexico campus and its potential to be creatively diverted and reimagined. Designed as a passive solar greenhouse, the project functions as a repository where cultural artifacts such as office memos, newspapers, food waste, and landscape debris are collected and photographed. For more images of this project visit her album:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Give Us A Lift!

As part of our goal to make our campus facilities universally accessible, Yestermorrow needs your help to raise $25,000 to install a vertical platform lift. Our main building is nearly ADA accessible, but we don’t have any way for someone with a wheelchair or walker to go between the two floors without going outside and through the parking lot.

We want our classes to be open to everyone, regardless of their mobility challenges.

We need to raise $25,000 from our alumni and supporters by December 31, 2009 to come into compliance with the Vermont state access board, and to do it WE NEED YOUR HELP.
Please donate today to the “Give us a Lift” campaign—all donations are tax deductible. If each one of our alumni gives just $10 we can reach our goal!

Donate online today—
Or you can send check, cash or money order to: “Give Us a Lift”, Yestermorrow, 189 VT Rte 100, Warren, VT 05674

Sign Up for House Tours Saturday 9/26

Saturday, September 26 10:30 – 1:30
For one day, film festival attendees will have an opportunity to view three wonderful, innovative buildings built by three of the pioneering architects who helped turn the Mad River Valley into a national architectural hotspot. What's more, the architects have generously agreed to give the tour of their buildings.

The first building is a recently completed work designed by one of the founders of Prickly Mountain, Architect Dave Sellers. The (Archie) Bunker is an all concrete building that will make you see (and appreciate) concrete in a new way.

The second stop is a house in Warren village that was remodeled by Architect John Connell, the founder of Yestermorrow. This building now houses the office of John's architectural firm, 2morrow studios.

The third stop is the unbelievable home of Architects Jim Sanford and Ellen Strauss.

The tour begins at the Yestermorrow Campus in Warren at 10:30am.
Cost $40 per person. Call 802-496-6662 for reservations. Space is limited, reserve early!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Architecture and Design Film Festival Featured in Seven Days

Unique Film Festival in Waitsfield Celebrates Architecture and Design
State of the Arts
By Kirk Kardashian [09.16.09]
"If Kyle Bergman wasn’t an architect, he’d be a filmmaker. That’s why the 47-year-old New York resident combined his profession with his passion to create the Architecture and Design Film Festival, a new four-day event taking place at Waitsfield’s Big Picture Theater.

All the proceeds from the festival are being donated to Yestermorrow Design/Build School, where Bergman is a member of the board of directors. Incidentally, Yestermorrow is what first brought Bergman to Vermont — he took a class there in 1985 while getting his degree in architecture. He later purchased a house in Warren and spends a good chunk of time there when he’s not in the city running his own design/build firm.

By Bergman’s count, there are at least 1000 films about architecture and design. And for good reason: The medium offers the next best thing to physical presence in a building. Compared with still photography, says Bergman, “film gives you a better sense with which to feel the space.”
Although a film festival about architecture may sound like it’s aimed at architects, Bergman assures that it’s not. “I think more and more people are caring about where they live, and how it looks and feels,” he says. “I’ve set it up so it has a broad reach.”

The festival is composed of 30 films organized into 12 series with themes such as “Going Green,” “Making Stuff” and “Fluid Art.” Each series, roughly two hours long and shown twice during the festival, includes one or two short films and a medium or long feature. The films chronicle each stage of the design process, from the creative phase to reactions to the final product."


Discussion of Modern Architecture in VT on Vermont Edition

From today's Vermont Edition with Jane Lindholm, "Homes and buildings in Vermont aren't often thought of as "Modern" with a capital "M." Most of our structures tend to veer toward the more quaint and old-fashioned. And without a strong corporate presence in many areas of the state, the large, modern structures found in many cities, aren't found in Vermont. But in recent years, Vermont has evolved, and become a hot bed of a new, regional style of modernism that focuses on sustainability and a sense of scale and place. We learn more with architectural historian Glenn Andres, and architect John McLeod."

The discussion includes Yestermorrow instructors John McLeod and Tyler Kobick.

Listen into the archive at

The show will also be replayed tonight at 7:00pm on your local VPR station.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


After much anticipation we are very excited to announce that the chickens have finally begun to lay eggs. A little small, but they're just getting started!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Architecture students learn to unlock their creativity with concrete

by Dirk Van Susteren, correspondent © Sept. 11, 2009, Norwich University Office of Communications

Christy Ketchel, dressed in work clothes, looked up an 11-foot embankment as a large cement-mixing truck poured its contents into forms for a wall of what will one day be a small cabin.

“Isn’t it great? It looks like a blow-up mattress,” she exclaimed as the forms began to fill.

“It looks like a plastic grocery bag filling up,” added another person.

“Sounds like heavy rain or hail,” said a third, as the mixture continued down the metal chute into the form.

Special projects invite imaginative descriptions. And for a group of architects and architectural students, work on the cabin at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vt., was indeed a special project.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fabric Formed Concrete

Last week was very exciting with the International Society of Fabric Forming workshop going on, led by YM instructor Sandy Lawton and Norwich University professor Eleanor D'Aponte. It was quite an international crew, from Copenhagen to Manitoba to Chile and a few locals mixed in too! They worked for over a week to prepare forms and pour the first two walls of what will be our future concrete cabin.

Check out the slideshow of the progress:

We'll continue in the spring pouring more wall, beams, and a roof (to be planted as a green roof). Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Save the Date! December 5th Art Auction

Dear Yestermorrow friends,

We are excited about our 5th annual Art Show and Sale. We are going to have a live and silent auction again this year. The date is December 5th and will be from 7 – 10 PM. This is one of the biggest events of the year and a major fundraiser for the school.

We’ll send out more details soon but right now, we want you to mark your calendars for the 5th of December, and to start working on your wonderful creations to donate or commission to the Art Show.

A few details:
1. We’ll have a reception with food and wine before the live auction begins.

We are looking for art submissions for the live auction from the Yestermorrow community. These can be paintings, photographs, furniture, ceramics, glass, metal sculpture, collage, jewelry, etc—something unique and handcrafted which shows the incredible talent of the people associated with the School. We are accepting pieces as donations to the auction as well as commissions. For commissions the artist can specify the minimum auction bid and the sale will be split 50/50 between Yestermorrow and the artist. All pieces must be at Yestermorrow by Thanksgiving at the latest. To submit a piece (or two or three), please contact Kate at

We are also accepting non-art donations for the silent auction. It could be anything from an interesting architecture book to a trip to the Bahamas. If you’re not much of an artist, but want to support the School with an in-kind gift, this is your chance! Got something you’d like to donate to the silent auction? please contact Kate at

We hope to see you all there, feel free to drop by and drop off your donation/commission while in town at the Architecture and Film Festival at the end of September

Monday, August 24, 2009

A student's experience in Carpentry for Women

One of our recent Carpentry for Women students wrote a great story about her experience at Yestermorrow on her blog, Ali's Cleaner Plate Club. Here's an excerpt:

There are nine of us in the class. In no particular order, we are:
Jory, a school social worker from Vermont, a hiker and gardener, mother of a college-aged daughter.
Ilona, a recent Smith graduate, former ultimate Frisbee player, student of an international boarding school, and classical guitarist, working now in an office job in the green economy in Washington DC.
Donna, a nurse from Central Massachusetts, a motorcyclist, who dreams of building a home closer to her two grown sons.
Alexis, a middle school art teacher and ceramicist who recently purchased five wooded acres of land in New Hampshire, where she plans to build her own timber-framed strawbale house.
Theresa, a former financial executive from New Jersey, a single mother whose children have grown. The day after her youngest child got a job, she quit her corporate job working for real estate developers, to move to Philadelphia where she will study urban planning.
Sarabel, a free-spirited employee of the Farm School in Western Massachusetts, a nonprofit that provides overnight, back-to-the-land experiences for children.
Cindy, a retired diplomat of the United Nations, now splitting her time between Vermont and South Africa.
Sasha, quiet, a 30-ish newlywed who works with youth, who is moving to a new city the day that class ends, and starting a new job two days later.
Then there is me: mother of two, wife of eleven years, semi-professional writer, striving to do more for myself.

I count the number of students who appear over 35, and under 30. The class seems split evenly — something that brings me no small relief.

We have two instructors, both professional women carpenters. Patti drives a silver Ford pick-up truck, is partial to Long Trail beer, and carries a guitar in a case emblazoned with bumper stickers, one of which says “Practice conscious acts of solidarity and organized resistance.” In her spare time, she rides motorcycles, plays folk festivals, has a radio show celebrating women’s music. She wears a scruffy T-shirt and a worn Yestermorrow baseball cap over her short hair. She stretches her muscled legs in front of her as she describes the 11-year process of building her own home. At one point during the week, she will tell us she does, in fact, own both an iron and a blowdryer — both are in her wood shop, used exclusively for carpentry.

Lizabeth — there is no “E,” though I will spend the week stumbling over that — is direct and wry, a former Peace Corps volunteer, simultaneously petite and rugged. Her long hair swept up casually, and she wears a T-shirt that says, “Don’t Panic: Go Organic.” Lizabeth explains why she became a carpenter in a single, short sentence: “because my dad was a sexist.”

Looking for feedback on logo

Yestermorrow is looking to our students, friends and supporters for feedback on our logo. Please take a couple minutes to answer our quick 10-question survey:
Thanks! This will help inform our decisions about logo and branding as we start to re-design our website adn launch into our 30th anniversary!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Art of Stone

Wow- beautiful! This amazing stone arch installation graces the entry to Yestermorrow's campus and was built by the one week Art of Stone class 7/5-10. Due to technical difficulties they were unable to finish the arch on Friday, but thanks to instructor Thea Alvin who came back after the class was finished to finish it off. See how it was constructed...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Buzz Ferver on Beyond Compost 8/19

Please join us at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, 8/19 for a talk by YM board member and instructor Buzz Ferver on

Beyond Compost...

The modern built environment pays little to no attention to its real effect on water quality, with stormwater being the single largest source of pollution in waterways. How can designers and builders make each and every project a place where water quality is being protected and improved, rather then degraded? One answer that is rapidly emerging is the use of engineered compost, especially in conjunction with geotextile fabrics.

Engineered compost is something most designers have never heard of. This represents a huge opportunity for designers to integrate into the landscape simple measures to put into practice the permaculturist's maxim "make water walk, not run". This same tenet is being extolled all over the country with different names..."Low Impact Development", "Rain Gardens", "Green Infrastucture"... Come and learn about how engineered compost for stormwater treatment works and how it can be integrated into the landscape in the form of gardens (both ornamental and food), paving edging, retaining walls and more.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Innovative Homes Tour of the Mad River Valley 8/22

Don't miss this rare opportunity to view some of the incredible and innovative residential architecture masterpieces of the Mad River Valley. Tour five spectacular homes led by the architects who designed these homes alongside the owners who live in them. This event is part of the Vermont Festival of the Arts which runs August 1-31, 2009. Bus transportation is provided for the day; the tour runs from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and departs from Yestermorrow.

This year’s tour will include:

A recent barn renovation project featuring locally sourced lumber, a high-tech wood boiler and renewable energy systems designed by local architect Jeff Schoellkopf

An all-concrete house with a green roof designed and built by local architect Dave Sellers

A net-zero energy home designed by local architect Jim Edgcomb

A hybrid timberframe with dramatic views designed for occupants with chemical sensitivity

A village home overhanging a river designed by local architect Mac Rood

Call now - 802-496-5545 - to book your seat on the bus because this tour always sells out! Reservations required: $50 fee includes buffet lunch at Yestermorrow and proceeds go to benefit Yestermorrow's scholarship fund.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Natural Building Intensive Open House & Graduation Ceremony

We are excited to announce the upcoming open house and graduation ceremony for our Summer 2009 Natural Building Intensive program next Friday August 21st. The Natural Building Intensive (NBI) is a unique 12-week course of study that brings together a collaborative group of experienced and enthusiastic instructors with students in an in-depth, hands-on experience in natural building, from the design and planning stages through the finishing touches. The open house is from 4-5pm at the project site, located on Jones Rd in Warren (off Plunkton Rd) at the Brodeur residence, and reflects what is capable in current natural building technology. The open house will be followed by a graduation ceremony for its 10 participants from 5-6pm. The building is an innovative, cutting-edge sustainable design/build project, featuring a hand-cut timber frame cut from local timber, a super-insulated roof system, and straw bale walls finished with natural lime and clay plasters. In addition, there are the added amenities of a masonry Rumford-style fireplace, radiant concrete floors, and natural daylighting features. For anyone interested in affordable and sustainable construction this would be a great opportunity to talk with students and instructors alike, as well as the owner, who are sure to offer both informative and diverse perspectives on the subject. In addition, as one work culminates another must begin; thus, we are currently soliciting a client for next year’s build. This person or group should already be considering a small scale building for the following year, and could see their project being enhanced by the inclusion of natural building methods.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Matt O'Connell's 7/22 Lecture Online

Continuous Transformations: Something Old, Something New in Making Next Generation Buildings with Matt O'Connell
This talk presents highlights from twenty years of transforming buildings and discusses the specific mechanics of integrating the design and construction processes with examples from collaborations that produced dynamic environments at various scales, from rooms to buildings and landscapes.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Testimonial: Ben Griffin

In January of 2009, I officially incorporated my first small business, Greener Living Inc., a company focused on natural and green building; home energy audits and weatherization; as well as an educational component of teaching workshops. The most significant event that led me to starting my own business involved the 11 week Natural Building Intensive program at Yestermorrow. There were many experiences during the course that seemed to prepare me for the next steps of becoming an entrepreneur. Most importantly, the training I received gave me the confidence that I could pursue natural building as a career. Secondly, I saw individuals pursuing their passions in sustainable ways, and making a good living. Thirdly, I now had more tangible experience and relevant references to present to potential clients. With a certificate from a reputable institution and instructors who could, and happily would, vouch for my experience, skill, and ability I felt much more confident in marketing myself.

I left Yestermorrow at the end of July 2008 with a renewed positivity that I could make a living doing what I love and that earning money didn't have to harm the environment. I felt more confident than ever that I possessed the skills and knowledge to provide valuable insight and quality work to my clients. Furthermore, I had gained more awareness of how to run a business from engaging in many conversations with the instructors of the program. Perhaps most of all, I simply felt inspired, positive, and full of energy to take action, whatever direction that might have been.

Mosaics class at Yestermorrow

I took a break from my kitchen and garden duties a few weekends ago to take the mosaics class. We were all able to go from start to finish on a project through the weekend and I decided I'd use my newly learned skill to spruce up the unisex bathroom in the lobby as one of my intern projects. I just finished and installed them. The artistic tiles were donated by one of my classmates.

Mosaics are not terribly difficult to create, though there are time intensive. Aside from their relative ease , I love mosaics for their bright and colorful use of garbage. Most of the materials are broken mugs, plates or random colorful bits that are scavenged and kept out of the wastestream. This past weekend we had one of our instructors and an artist create an art installation using reclaimed materials--garbage otherwise. The regenerative nature of recycled materials art is really attractive to me: in addition to materials being reclaimed and kept out of the waste strem, out of garbage comes something beautiful.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dan Reicher Lecture Review

Dan Reicher, the director of Energy and Climate Initiatives at Google, spoke last night at Yestermorrow to an "overflow crowd of summer program students, area professionals and interested public," as part of the free summer lecture series. He previewed an array of Google sponsored R&D projects that deal specifically with energy consumption and alternative fuel. For more read these two reviews by Design Cultivation and Light Amber. Watch the lecture online at:

Art in the English Garden

Despite some epic rain (clearly Vermont is not the only place experiencing an extremely wet summer), our student in the Art in the English Garden course with instructor Thea Alvin had a wonderful time and pulled off an amazing project while also visiting some amazing gardens, seeing the local sites, and enjoing tea and scones! Full slideshow to come, but here's a glimpse of the final product...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tonight! Dan Reicher from Google at Yestermorrow

Dan Reicher, Director of Energy and Climate Initiatives at Google, former Assistant Secretary of Energy, and Obama Transition Team member will be at Yestermorrow tonight at 7pm to talk about the current state of play in energy and climate technology, policy and investment. He will discuss Google's increasing focus in the energy world and the critical role of Washington, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley including the massive energy stimulus package.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

John Ringel Lecture 7/15 online

Thoughts on Designing Additions:
From Context to Content and Intention to Invention

Topic Summary:
An “addition” attempts to transform an “existing condition”--with its unique history---into a new configuration for the present owner’s future aspirations. The Design has to account for the existing context with all its foibles, implications and technical challenges. The Design has to articulate the present intentions both stated and implied. The Design becomes an invention—a product of the imagination—that will be a future owners’ existing condition. This lecture will reflect, with examples, on some of the speaker’s experiences “adding on” to numerous residences over the years. It will also show as an example the currently Proposed Yestermorrow Design/Build School Shop Addition.

John Ringel has been a design/builder since 1972 when he co-founded Jersey Devil design/build firm with Steve Badanes. His natural propensities led him to concerns of sun, site, and energy in buildings. He has specialized in energy and sustainable design and has design/built numerous homes, additions, and alterations to existing residences. John has taught at Yestermorrow since 1990.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Forest Management on Campus

Those of you who've visited Yestermorrow's campus know that one of the things we have an abundance of here are trees. Of our 38-acre campus, about 22 acres are in woodland. When Yestermorrow purchased the property in 1990, the hillside had been previously logged, and had grown back in a mixture of pine, hemlock and some mixed hardwoods at the upper parts of the slope. Over the past 10 years we've harvested a handful of trees in our Stump to Sticker classes and milled them up for use in projects around campus. We also harvested nearly 10,000 board feet of pine last year from around the Chalet for use in our Natural Building Intensive class project at Knoll Farm.

This year we've taken a new fresh look at our forest management plan in anticipation of clearing a new cabin site on the north edge of our campus. As a result, we've decided to bring in a local logger to harvest a number of pines which we'll be able to mill and use for upcoming projects. At the same time, we'll clear space for a new 2 room cabin and our new fabric formed concrete structure. It makes sense for us to cut many of the surrounding mature pines at the same time, before they get too big to safely harvest (especially once the new cabins are in the way), and concentrate the inevitable disruption at one time. All in all we'll harvest 40-50 pines and a number of smaller poplars along the northern border of the campus in the next week or so.

While it'll be hard to see these big beautiful trees go when the skidder and chipper are here, we're looking forward to the long term possibilities that will result from the harvest. We will work to transition this mature pine stand into a mixed hardwood forest. The area opened up by the clearing is an ideal location for future food forest development especially in the form of large nut trees and hardwoods like oaks, walnuts, hickories, and chestnuts with some fruit trees along the edge of the meadow. The upcoming forest management activity represents an opportunity to stimulate real action on regenerative land transition on campus and move forward with our larger goals of campus master planning incorporating Permaculture principles.

Yestermorrow is looking for a cob building project

Yestermorrow is looking for a community client for our upcoming Introduction to Cob Building course September 6-12th. Cob is a combination of clay sediment, sand, and straw mixed together with water and hand formed into walls to create an affordable, safe and ecologically sound method of construction. This 6-day Yestermorrow course is looking for a project site in the Mad River Valley where we could build a small structure or create infill walls in an existing structure. Typically cob walls are finished with an earthen plaster after the cob has dried thoroughly. Potential projects could include a small shed, chicken coop, or garden wall which incorporates a door and windows. The community client is responsible for preparing the project site and paying for the cost of building materials, but all student and instructor labor is provided at no charge to the client.

If you know of a potential project for the upcoming Cob Building course, or would like to find out more information, please call José Galarza, Community Outreach Coordinator, at Yestermorrow: 802-496-5545 or by email at

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New video! Lecture by Jacob Deva Racusin

Check out the 7/8 summer lecture by Jacob Deva Racusin on Bridging the Gap: Bringing Together the Worlds of Natural and Green Building at He discusses how the modern natural building movement has been growing slowly but steadily for decades across the globe, yet much misunderstanding still remains about its form, function, purpose, and potential. The growth of the green building movement has helped increase awareness of energy efficiency, building performance, and ecological sensitivity. Developments in natural building and design in our cold climate are addressing these concerns, while continuing to support core issues of social and ecological justice and affordability. Come find out how the natural and green building movements can - and must - learn from and work with each other to reach mutual goals.

Jacob Deva Racusin is co-owner of New Frameworks Natural Building, a Vermont-based contracting and consulting business specializing in the integration of natural materials, holistic design principles, and intentional process to create high performance structures of beauty. Jacob has been creating functional art with wood, stone, straw, earth, and other found materials since 2000, when he began design and construction on a solar-oriented straw bale house in Montgomery, Vermont, in which he lives with his family. He has led Yestermorrow's Natural Building Intensive program in 2008 and 2009.

Stay tuned to for each week's public lectures, or join us in person at the School at 7pm on Wednesdays through the end of August. For a full schedule of the Summer Lecture Series, please visit

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A few summer shots

We've posted a few new photo albums on our Picasa site from summer classes and just neat happenings around campus- check it out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Lecture Series video online

We're thrilled to have our summer lecture series video online now thanks to volunteer Cornelius Murphy! We'll be posting the presentations weekly on the new channel at Check it out! You can also subscribe via RSS feed or iTunes to get notification of new videos as they're posted.

Click here for the first lecture from 6/24 with Jeff Parsons and Jared W. Poor from Beeken Parsons furnituremaking studio in Shelburne, VT on "What Were We Thinking? Reflections on how Place, Personality and Process Influence Furniture Design at Beeken Parsons"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Summer Lecture Series

Yestermorrow is pleased to announce the 10th Annual Summer Lecture Series starting Wednesday, June 24th and continuing Wednesday evenings at 7pm through the end of August. The lecture series features a wide range of professionals related to the field of design/build speaking on topics as diverse as clean energy technology, compost, furnituremaking, real estate development, energy efficiency, natural building and much more.
For a full lineup of speakers and topics can be found at:
Please join us!
p.s. lectures will also be videotaped and shown on Channel 44 here in the Mad River Valley and posted online at

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pecha Kucha comes to Yestermorrow

We had a wonderful time Saturday night at Yestermorrow's Board and Faculty meeting. Good meetings during the day, a wonderful dinner by Heidi, Carrie and Austin, and then Yestermorrow's first ever Pecha Kucha (pronounced pe-chak-cha). The concept comes from the Japanese word for "chit chat" and this idea has been sweeping the design world by storm over the past few years. The idea is to see a lot of work in a short period of time, so each presenter can choose only 20 slides, and gets 20 seconds to say whatever they want to say about each one. We had 14 presenters, including Paul Hanke, Matt O'Connell, Josh Jackson, Mac Rood, Kathy Meyer, Skip Dewhirst, Ace McArleton, Monica DiGiovanni, Hilary Russell, Rich Montena, Keith Giamportone, Jeff Schoellkopf, Dave Sellers, Tyler Kobick, and Chris Cook (for WMAP). It was a classic demonstration of the diversity of the Yestermorrow community, showing work ranging from boatbuilding to historic preservation to timberframing to furniture to large scale architecture to hydropower to photography to food!

I've combined all the slides into two short (10 minute) videos:

It's split into two halves- for Part 2 click on:

or you can watch the individual presenters in short clips at:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yestermorrow to host fabric formed concrete course

Yestermorrow and the School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University are co-sponsoring a one-week program in concrete construction. The course is built around the annual workshop of ISOFF (The International Society of Fabric Formers) which is geared towards educators, practitioners, and students. Around the globe, from cutting-edge research in universities and institutes, to contractors and architects working in the field, fabric forming is a significant new force in concrete construction.
This one-week event will bring together the world's leading innovators in the field to share techniques and strategies, while forming and pouring a series of concrete architectural components that allow for high efficiency, thermally massive, durable and sustainable structures. Participants will tour local architecture projects that use fabric form work and examine case studies to learn about the science and art of building with concrete.
The workshop will be held at Yestermorrow August 24-28 and is being co-sponsored by The School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University. Participants can register for the full week-long program ($1,200) or a one day Friday session, which includes hands-on casting and tour of local structures ($150). AIA continuing education credits available. Call 888-496-5541 for more information or Register Online. Click here for the planned workshop and conference schedule.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The chickens are here!

Our new chickens have arrived this morning! A dozen pullets raised by YM alum Cathy Rubacalba. Check out this sweet mobile coop built by our interns over the past two weeks. Once these little guys get a little bigger, we're looking forward to collecting our own homegrown eggs every morning!

The crew and the chicken tractor

More photos at

Monday, June 01, 2009

Welcome new interns!

Yestermorrow welcomed two new interns on May 18th. They have survived the past 2 weeks and are already hard at work!

Karie Reinertson--Originally from Santa Barbara, CA, Karie has lived in nearly every major city on the east and west coasts, most recently Washington, DC. While working for the Landscape Architecture Foundation, an environmental design non-profit in DC, she realized that she needed to find out more about the type of design projects she was funding, hands-on. LAF supported this decision and Karie went to southern Spain to learn straw bale building and, after another stint with LAF, she learned cob building in the Costa Rican rain forest. She’s traveled extensively throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, parts of Central America, Europe, and Egypt. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003 and hopes to start graduate architecture school in 2010, focusing on responsible community design/build in Latin America.

Tim Terway-- Tim joins Yestermorrow from Brooklyn, NY where he was working on ecological and urban regeneration strategies including the NYC reforestation plan, an industrial ecology and development vision for the Southwest Brooklyn waterfront, and a cultural preservation plan for the bioregionally-dependent Maasai tribes of Southern Kenya. Originally from the anthracite coal lands of Pottsville, Pennsylvania and trained as a landscape architect and city planner, he has been to 5 continents while working to reconcile the design of cities with the natural systems they're dependent on in the wake of unprecedented resource challenges. Tim will use his time at Yestermorrow to immerse himself in the beauty of learning by doing while accepting that he'll no longer have an excuse to not help is dad with any building project imaginable.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Garden Updates on Ethicurean

Check out Kitchen/Garden Intern Stephanie Pierce's update on the Ethicurean blog about her experiences so far in the Yester-garden...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

YM Alum Guthrie Smith Shares Her Story

From 2007 Home Design/Build graduate Guthrie Smith:

"Ever since I was a child, I had planned to build a house. In 1975, pregnant with my first child, I built a log cabin in Huntington woods with my partner. Sixteen years later, when I was trying to move back to Vermont, I took the summer to build a cabin with my husband-to-be (I didn’t know it at the time) in Belvidere as a retreat for me and my four children. That same year I heard about Yestermorrow and wanted in the worst way to take a class there! I really never let go of that idea, and another sixteen years later, when it was time to build a REAL house, it was clear that the Home Design/Build class was finally going to happen for me.

I came to the class with enthusiasm, motivation to learn and do, and some bare-minimum skills in the building area. I left with a great house design and the ability to make designs, some more and better building skills, and some great ideas. The class was amazing – working all day and sometimes into the night with others, all of us focused on our own visions. I learned from everyone, not just the instructors. The most important thing I got from taking the class was the confidence and excitement to actually take what I had begun and make it into what would end up my home!

I waited many years for the right time to take this class, and as much as I looked forward to it, I could never have imagined it being quite as helpful and life-changing as it was! I was involved in every aspect of the design of the house, practicing my newly-acquired drafting skills, and tried my hand at as much as I felt able to do in the building process. During the year of building, I did some basic carpentry work, window and door trim, laid and cut tile. Now, among other things, I’m making some shelves and cabinets, a result of another great Yestermorrow class!"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Filipino Design/Build Project

Check out this great design/build project in the Phillipines led by Yestermorrow instructor and board member Kyle Bergman and his longtime friend and collaborator Jim Hubbell. This project is part of their ongoing Pacific Rim Parks project and has been a design/build process involving Filipino architecture students over the past month. There are lots more amazing images on their blog: The posts are chronological, so if you want to start at the beginning, go to the bottom of the page and scroll up.

A Hands-on Revolution- Financial Times feature

Financial Times- May 23, 2009
A Hands-on Revolution by Madeleine Johnson
A few years ago Jon Biehler took a life-changing bicycle ride through the US state of Maine. He happened upon a school – the Shelter Institute – which would eventually transform him from a teacher into an architect and builder, the sort of man able to put a roof over his own head.
“[I was] already interested in building a house for myself with good construction techniques and a very open feeling [and] I realised that Shelter Institute could give me the knowledge to either contract out or take on whatever portion of the work I wanted,” recalls Biehler, who is based in Germany. “A few summers later, I took their three-week post-and-beam course.”

Enchanted by the school’s surroundings, he bought a nearby plot of land, where he erected a pre-cut 20ft by 40ft post-and-beam structure, which he finished himself, while calling in professionals for wiring and plumbing. Within three summers he had a completed vacation house, garden shed and boat house. And now, after getting “invigorated” by his summer 2008 school project – a frame cabin – he has started work on a year-round retirement home.

Read more... (Yestermorrow story starts a few paragraphs down)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New York Times Article Hits Home

The most emailed story from the New York Times today was "The Case for Working with Your Hands." Our changing economy is one force that is apparently helping the trades look more appealing than many office desk jobs, probably for the first time in several generations. I know that as a young "knowledge worker" I often craved a visible result or a tired body from my workday. This craving, combined with my desire to learn how to approach work in a way that leaves the world a better place rather than a more toxic place, is part of what drove me to the internship program at Yestermorrow.

It's an interesting article that resonated with me when I read it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Regenerative Design Course: June 28-July 3

The leading edge of the sustainable building movement is beginning to push the envelope beyond the greening of conventional buildings, into the territory of regenerative design and development -- the process of integrating buildings, communities, and their inhabitants as healthy contributors to the living places of which they are a part. This course begins with the practical essentials of building system integration -- the process required to achieve affordable and effective environmental design. Deeper technical system integration will also be addressed relating to the design of buildings that function as organisms -- net positive energy generators and clean water contributors (Living Buildings).

This new course, to be taught by three pioneers in the fields of sustainable, integrated, and regenerative design -- Bill Reed, John Boecker, and Joel Glanzberg -- will provide a rare opportunity to explore the design world's cutting edge with some of the field's pre-eminent practitioners. Course dates are June 28 to July 3. Click here to learn more about the Regenerative Design & Development course. To register, click here for online registration, email or call us at 888-496-5541.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Permaculture 101

From the great site:
Permaculture expert Penny Livingston-Stark shows how natural systems can teach us better design practices. Learning to work with the earth not only creates a healthier environment, it also nourishes the people who live in it.

Find more videos like this on Bioneers Community

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 2009 Newsletter Now Online

In this issue...
Student Profile: Mike Horgan
Upcoming Classes
Class Spotlight: Regenerative Design
Bike and Build
Fabric Formed Concrete Conference
Public Information Sessions in NYC and Philadelphia

Visit view the latest Yestermorrow e-newsletter.

Biophilic Design Book Wins Award

Yestermorrow Board member Stephen Kellert's recent book, "Biophilic Design: the Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life" (John Wiley 2008) just won the 2008 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (the PROSE awards) in the Architecture and Urban Planning category. Congrats Stephen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Instructor Thea Alvin's show opens May 4th

Yestermorrow instructor Thea Alvin (Art of Stone, Art in the English Garden) will debut a show of drawings from her recent trip to China and the calligraphy for it at the Bees Knees in Morrisville, VT. She's also binding books of the story that she wrote home on her trip. May 4th at 6 pm.