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, November 29, 2011

Semester Program Tiny House

For the past 14 weeks the twelve students enrolled in the Semester in Sustainable Design/Build have been hard at work, designing and building an innovative tiny house on wheels! Check out their progress with the slideshow below and the website they created at:

Join us Friday, December 9th for the public debut of the tiny house and an end of semester celebration and graduation. 3:30-6:00pm, 33 College St, Montpelier, VT.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Semester Program Graduation Celebration

Our tiny house is ready for its big debut.

Please join us in celebrating the first graduates of Yestermorrow's tiny house project.

3:30 - 6:00 pm
december 9
vermont college of fine arts
33 college st, montpelier vt

rsvp 802-224-0377 or

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Are They Doing Now?

Ever wonder what former Yestermorrow interns are up to? Here are a few updates from around the globe…

Hannah Barrows was married this summer. She’s been living in Scotland where she recently finished her graduate degree, and currently she’s traveling in Nepal volunteering on farms and planning to build a house in the not-too-distant future.

Iago Lowe has a new name… Iago Hale. He and his wife Erin (also a former YM staffer) recently moved to Durham NH with their daughter Zadie. Iago has a new position as an Assistant Professor in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at UNH.

Kristin Engelbrecht-Bleem is living in Seattle, WA and running her own small business, Eager Beaverworks, doing mostly renovation and house painting ( Outside of work she is actively pursuing her Aikido practice.

Kendall Barbery just started her first year of grad school at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Jeremy Culver and his wife Carlie welcomed their third child, Jayce Alan Culver, into the world on April 4th. They live in Seattle where Jeremy works for a design/build firm.

Tom Virant and his wife Yumiko welcomed their second child, Wilson Akira, in June. They have a practice together called Virant Design based in Asheville, NC. A house they recently built was featured in the New York Times this past August.

Mike Sullivan married Jen Williams and they had a big party in September at #10 Pond in Calais, VT. They live in Montpelier, VT and have a young daughter named Ella.

Sunne Durzy is working as a nurse at the Brattleboro Retreat.

Andrew Mountcastle recently moved back to the east coast and is living in the Boston area.

Andreas Stavropoulos just moved his office into the “big city” of San Francisco and has a new business partner. Their work is mainly focused on landscape architecture-

Anne Marie Flusche is back in school at Cornell University studying urban planning. She just built a sweet chicken coop.

Ben Cheney is teaching at Yestermorrow a lot, 2 days/week in the new semester program as well as leading the Woodworking Certificate program. When not at Yestermorrow he has launched a new business called Construct, and has a shop in Montpelier which he shares with Eyrich Stauffer.

Zach Hunter is living in Montpelier and building full time. He’s currently working on a large barn for Vermont Wildwoods.

Kristen Zeiber recently moved to Somerville, MA and is working on a graduate degree at MIT.

Ted Kilcommons has been working on a variety of design/build renovation and furniture projects out of his shop in Brooklyn, NY ( where he occasionally collaborates with Peter Buley (

Mary Kate Wheeler is out in Spokane, Washington where she and her boyfriend Brian run Ornery Heron Farm.

Zach Lamb is a design/builder in New Orleans, with a practice called CrookedWorks Architecture.

Brian Malone has been building quite a few timber frames since his Yestermorrow internship. Now he’s back in school at Oregon State University for engineering in Corvallis, OR.

Anya Brickman Raredon recently finished her graduate degree at MIT in Urban Planning and Design and has been working with rebuilding projects in Haiti as a Research Scientist & Haiti Projects Manager at MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism.

Gabriel Rogers finished his two years in the Peace Corps in El Salvador and more recently has been traveling to Argentina, where he is planning to work on some natural building projects.

Sean Dalton is a full time timberframer with Timber Homes LLC in Vershire, VT (

Annie Murphy is back at Yestermorrow, as a Teaching Assistant for the fall Semester Program.

Anna Morrison is working for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity as a Site Supervisor, leading their Women Build project.

Meaghan Pierce-Delaney is back in the states after teaching landscape architecture for the past few years at the Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Now she’s back in Brooklyn and is expecting a baby in January!

Jessa Turner and her husband Nathan purchased a beautiful piece of property and launched their own business HomeGrown HideAways, a 100 acre farm located 11 miles from Berea, KY, offering an ecological retreat for folks interested sustainability, conservation, and the beauty of the natural environment. ( .

Kelly Cutchin moved back to Auburn, Maine (near she grew up) where she and her boyfriend are renovating an old farmhouse they recently bought.

Andy Schlatter is a practicing architect at KieranTimberlake in Philadelphia, where he lives with his partner Krista and their two young daughters, Ruby and Frances.

Nick Donowitz and his wife Julia Bunting welcomed their first child, Brock Joseph Donowitz, this summer. They live in Toronto where Nick works as Business & Corporate Development Manager for Heliae, LLC, a company developing algae-based fuels.

Jon Mingle has spent most of the past year in Ladakh, India helping to build a passive solar community center for a small village. Also an accomplished freelance journalist, he had pieces published this year in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, and the 2011 Patagonia catalog. He was awarded one of Middlebury College’s Fellowships in Environmental Journalism in 2011, which will allow him to travel to Brazil to report on environmental issues there.

Ji Shon and Sam Kraft are both in school at the University of Washington working on Masters of Architecture degrees.

Bob O’Hara is in law school at Loyola University and started his own business doing solar installations in New Orleans, where he is Co-founder and Systems Integrator at Sustainable Systems Integrators (SSI) LLC.

Kate Blofson just started grad school at UVM where she is a Master’s student in the Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources and an Education and Outreach Fellow for the Office of Sustainability focusing on the Clean Energy Fund.

Joanne Garton lives in Montpelier, VT with her partner Michael and they have a young son named Liam.

Jacob Mushlin recently finished a timber frame project as part of his Practicum for the Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design at Yestermorrow, where he designed and then worked with volunteers and students to construct an outdoor wash station for the group New Farms for New Americans, based at Burlington’s Intervale. He also has a new dog named Oscar.

Lauren Faulkner-Duncan and her wife Jen Sandler welcomed their son, Julian Mitchell Sandler-Duncan on July 23rd. They live in Portland, ME, where Lauren is a practicing designer-builder. Over the past year she built a beautiful teardrop trailer- check it out at

Dan Wheeler just started his first year of Architecture school at Norwich University and is living in Plainfield, VT.

Nadia Khan is living in Argentina with her husband Tomas and young son Khalil where they are building a house and she is creating beautiful stained glass.

Megan McNally and Andrea Kelchlin are working together in Buffalo, NY at Rusted Grain, a new woodshop specializing in building with reused materials.

Not mentioned here? Send your updates to or post here as comments.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reflections from a Hurricane Irene volunteer

Small Step Farm is our neighbor just across the street and was entirely submerged under 8 feet! of the overflowing Mad River. On October 5th we had a wonderful team of 6 volunteers who spent the day digging debris out of a drainage swale and uprooting knotweed which threatened to make the fields unplantable.

I invite you to read an article written by one of our volunteers, Jonathan Perlow who, when not generously sharing his time, is a freelance writer.

It's a kind article that speaks to his experience as a volunteer at the school and as a visitor to our beautiful state.
-Monica DiGiovanni, Student Services Manager

Giving Back and Paying Homage to Yesterday and Tomorrow

The Yestermorrow Design/Build School has some special things going for it. At the school they do things by hand and by time honored traditions. There is no machining to make things and when they say master craftsmen it has little to do with Sears. You have a group of what appear to be fiercely independent artists and thinkers who come to this place to improve their craft, express themselves and dive into the kind of self discovery that a barren countryside is happy to help with. Yet they have a community that requires them all to communicate and work as a team in order to keep the place clean and to run the facility. Every aspect of maintaining the property calls on all these independent spirits to also be highly communal. There is no outside help. The place requires the kind of closeness normally reserved for family. These are seemingly two divergent objectives coexisting. The first being the highly personal, individualized search for self, and the second being the finding and defining of self through communal participation and activity.

My brother asked me to accompany him, and as it turned out a coworker, on a trip to Vermont from Boston. He needed a copilot for this two day work trip and volunteer day. I agreed because sometimes I'm a good brother and also happen to be a writer who thinks the fall season is beautiful as well as inspiring. Plus I hadn't been in the deep country for a good while or seen peak Autumn season for a few years.

The drive up was spectacular. The only thing driving harder than us was the rain on collision course with the earth and really wasn't that apropos for a trip that was largely about throwing a helping hand to flood victims. The rain did little to dampen the fall colors that intensified as we made our way ever further north but did provide a reasonable distraction from an interminably long car ride. Our first destination was just short of the Canadian border, in Orleans, VT, followed by a loop back down to Waitsfield, VT to stay for the evening and prepare for volunteer work the next day. What was waiting for us was indeed a field but we didn't know that yet...

Our destination in Waitsfield was to be the Yestermorrow Design/Build School, which was sponsoring the volunteer day. My brother, an architect, knew of this place from traveling with them to Costa Rica some years back for a project that was based around building sustainable structures. I learned about the place through a blog post, which I acquired from my brother in a mild panic, after realizing I had committed a full day and overnight to them and their cause without having any idea who they were or what their cause was.

The Yestermorrow Design/Build School is an unassuming structure sitting on one of an infinite number of picturesque Vermont hills. Solar panels along the roadside precede the sign for the school itself. The sign delineating the school property lacks the flash, glitz and grandiose presence that most of our modern institutions of higher education thrust upon us. The sign introducing this school is simple yet effective and I would soon discover that those two descriptors couldn’t be more accurate for this place.

We walked into the school and were greeted by a set of small offices, the aroma of fresh cut wood and the sound of silence. My brother had been corresponding with Monica, the main organizer behind the volunteer effort, who works at the school. She came out from one of the offices, introduced herself, and then burst into a quick tour of the facility. Through the first door into a foyer overlooking a wood shop we went. Down below the foyer we saw a few focused students who were happily hand carving chairs as part of a class. The aroma of fresh cut wood was so powerful as we stood in the foyer that the smell swept into my nose treating it as though it was the dustpan used to gather the wood shavings left in piles on the floor by the students. Through the next door into a large open room that appeared to be a meeting space we went. There we met Justin, an intern at the school, who was doing some construction work. The library was off to our left and then we passed through into the next room which was the kitchen. There we were greeted by the aromas of fresh picked rosemary and field greens, thick baking bread, stewing tomato sauce and a hint of Parmesan cheese. We were introduced to Heidi, the main cook, who was cooking along with another intern, Ilona. Monica said we were welcome to dine with them that evening for a reasonable price but that she needed to know so they could prepare accordingly. We signed up immediately. The smells coming out of that kitchen had the three of us bought in before the offer was ever made.

At the far end of the kitchen were the stairs leading down into the dorm area and we were given keys to our room for the night. Fresh linens, towels, two sets of bunk beds, presumably made on premise, and a few other furnishing completed the room. The accommodations were complimentary as a return gesture for us donating our time the next day. Our tour wrapped up with a stroll across the bottom floor of the building into the chair making class. Following some brief introductions to the students, who were busy carving away, we walked back up the stairs to where we started.

The grounds surrounding the school were amazing. The place was populated with examples of sustainable structures of all kinds, such as a mud hut and a straw wall, and then further filled out by glorious gardens and colorful landscaping touches. They even have the tree house every child dreams about tucked in on the back edge of the the property, where the forest line starts. Something about this tree house’s design conjured images of Robin Crusoe in this writer’s mind and also brought me back to the, in this case inferior tree house, we had when I was a young boy.

Dinner later in the evening was incredible. Words truly can do no justice. Made from almost all local products, either found on premise or sourced from down the street, to merely say this was a fresh cooked meal doesn’t capture its essence. Maybe the most important ingredient was the love put into the preparation. We got to meet the rest of the students and staff at dinner too, which was served family style. My travel partners and I were the outsiders at the dinner table but were welcomed with open arms.

I did very little talking while enjoying the food and company. Instead of being social with the group I used the circumstance of all of us being together to observe the finer workings of this community. Silence can sometimes afford us the chance to hear things that otherwise might be overlooked...

Utopia is often presented as some picture perfect image of reality where everyone gets along and all things are "ideal". To my knowledge no such mass reality has ever existed in the history of humanity. Yestermorrow has something I've been looking for and seeing in more places lately though. It's not that I would fit in here or that they cater to the art that I'm drawn to but what they do have is what one might liken to a modern utopia in spirit. People in deep phase of self discovery and self expression, who support each other and look out for each other, in the most basic worldly ways. The community level interactions here create a sense of love, belonging and goodwill among the participants. When care for shelter, food preparation, cleanliness and socializing become responsibilities shared by a community magical things can happen. The resolve of a community will almost always be stronger than that of an individual and a community running efficiently creates greater efficiency than a single person acting efficiently ever could.

As a result of the shared community activities the participants find themselves with more time to spend in self discovery and expression. In this basic interchange, flow of yin and yang, we can see the mechanics of something very much resembling an enlightened society at work. Maybe we make enlightenment to complicated sometimes? How can enlightenment ever grow into a mass if we don’t recognize the seeds? Heidi asked me "How is everything?" and I replied "Wonderful, I'm just marveling at this community you have here". She understood what I meant.

We woke up the next morning to a wonderful breakfast, this time prepared by Jess, and cups of fresh locally sourced coffee. We still didn't know what our volunteer work was going to consist of. Monica showed up about 830am and we learned that we would be going across the street to help out on a local farm. A field was indeed awaiting us in Waitsfield! The farm had been buried under 8ft of water. Lots of cleanup had already taken place but the silt left behind had riddled the planting field with an unruly weed that spreads faster than the plague, has to be dug down and pulled out by it's individual root, and then tilled till there is not a trace of it left, if there is any chance of it being eviscerated. Even a sliver of a stem laying on the ground will re root and grow as strong as the plant it was a part of to begin with.

On the far side of property was a creek, formed by runoff, that lead into a river behind the farmhouse. The creek was in need of a serious cleanup. It was littered with various debris including pieces of plastic, small trees and massive tree stumps that were heavy enough to give Hercules a hernia. The random garbage and unnatural silt deposits from the flood were constricting the flow of the creek. We were joined by three other women and Monica. All of us volunteers. The four women went to work on the weeds, while we spent the morning in the creek, us three men playing in the creek like school children digging through the mud and having fun. Joining us for a good portion of the morning was the farm dog Wilbur. He was a small dog but his spirit made up for whatever he lacked in stature. He was adventurous and was all too willing to get as dirty as the rest of us.

A striking thought hit me while we were dredging the creek by rake and shovel, after hours removing debris that morning. My brother's coworker and I spoke about it then. Nature had made this creek to run and then that same force of nature came back with a different disguise and ruined the creek but by working collectively we were able to put it back together or at least make it more operational again. It serves as a splendid reminder of how intrinsically tied to nature we are on multiple levels. There we were seven strangers on a farm, there because we cared enough to be, there giving up our "earnings" for the day and we were able to set that small piece of nature back to where she should be. Imagine if we all took a little time to do this? Imagine if we all MADE time to do this. We can't fix the world by ourselves but by pitching in and caring we can make a difference. Yes we are at the mercy of nature sometimes but sometimes we can show nature our mercy too. Imagine if we all went out with our six closest friends and did this once every two months all over the globe? A lot of healing could happen. It embodies something the Dalai Lama has said which is "We can solve many problems in an appropriate way, without any difficulty, if we cultivate harmony, friendship and respect for one another."

We had lunch and finished our work. The field now has a lot less weeds and a much better chance of successful planting thanks to the four women who spent all morning tending it and our efforts as a unit in the afternoon to clear the way. Lunch was like dinner. The soup was lovely. It was hearty and flavorful yet delicate and light. I didn't catch this cook's name but I did say thanks. We set out to give back a bit to a community that was hard hit and in return received more than I ever would have imagined. I didn't expect anything and I wasn't looking for anything in return but I got much more from this experience than I ever could have given. The sun was shining in the afternoon and reflected the colors of Autumn while clean crisp mountain air dispersed its invigorating freshness all throughout our beings. A fresh start for all parties.

--Jonathan Perlow

Friday, November 11, 2011

A thank you

Dear friends and neighbors,

In honor of Veterans Day, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize the efforts of the Mad River Valley Veterans for Peace. In October 2005 they came together to organize a powerful memorial to soldiers killed in the Iraq war through the planting of white flags in honor of each fallen soldier. After displaying the flags at the Vermont Statehouse, they asked us at Yestermorrow if they could put them in our field along Route 100, and later expanded the memorial to include soldiers killed in Afghanistan as well. For the past six years it has been an honor for us to be able to host this memorial. Hundreds of people have stopped to experience the memorial close up, and many thousands more have driven by it. It has inspired many similar displays across the country. And the Veterans for Peace have diligently maintained the memorial, updated the numbers, mowed the field, and planted new flags. In particular I’d like to thank Ned Kelley, Jito Coleman, Russ Bennett and the many other volunteers for organizing this effort.

For the past few months a conversation has been evolving within this group about what should happen to the flag memorial over time. Simultaneously, at Yestermorrow we’ve been thinking about how we can best use our campus to demonstrate regenerative design principles and practices. As a result of these conversations we’ve decided together to bring the flag memorial to an end and move forward with plans to rebuild the soil in the field and return it to agricultural use. This won’t happen overnight, but over the next few years we will partner with our neighbors at Kingsbury Market Garden to bring in new soil, amendments, compost, and cover crops to build nutrients and eventually grow and harvest crops on this small field.
As one chapter ends, new opportunities emerge. Thanks again to all who have helped make the white flag memorial such a meaningful tribute to the American men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kate Stephenson
Executive Director, Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Professional Semester in Integrative Design/Build

Yestermorrow is now offering a new intensive design/build program created for professionals and advanced students: the Professional Semester in Integrative Design/Build. This is an exciting new and unique 20-week immersion curriculum that gives you the opportunity to gain important hands-on technical skills combined with a strong design-based interdisciplinary education developing a real-world project. This program will help you advance in the fields of architecture, construction, building science, engineering and environmental design. Through collaboration with UMass – Amherst’s departments of Architecture + Design and Building & Construction Technology we are able to offer 15 graduate-level credits that complement degrees in these fields.

The scheduled dates for this program are from February 13th to June 22nd, 2011, and is open to any graduate-level student or professional from varying disciplines related to the study and making of the built environment (architecture, engineering, building science, urban planning, art, environmental science, forestry, business, and economics) who want to immerse themselves in the integrative process of designing and making a building.

This program is appropriate for graduate students who seek more practical hands-on opportunities in their academic careers while at the same time engaging in a thorough and rigorous exploration of the context influencing this practice. This program is also designed for the recent graduate looking to develop further competency and experience in the field of sustainable building and design, as well as for practicing design and construction professionals looking to advance further in their fields or develop greater proficiency in sustainable design and construction. Because students ultimately build what they collaboratively design, they are empowered with the ability and confidence to measure and define appropriate technology, and to then implement those concepts now and into the future. They do this all the while developing a tight network of friends and academic and professional colleagues.

Topics and experiences presented in the the Professional Semester in Integrative Design/Build include:

- design studio
- building science and environmental control systems
- social and historical context of the Northeast built environment
- group design and facilitation
- project management
- skill development in cutting-edge appropriate technologies

If you are a recipient of federal financial aid that money should travel with you to this program. We are looking to accept 14 – 16 students and have just a few spots available for the coming Spring 2012 semester. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for this program please contact us and we can help get the process going. There is more specific information about the program on our website: