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, 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.”

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