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, 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.