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.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Master Planning Update

Dear Yestermorrow Faculty, Staff, Students and Friends,

Over the past year, Yestermorrow has undertaken a comprehensive master planning and strategic planning process. To facilitate decision-making, the Board of Directors designated a “Core Team” of stakeholders to represent different aspects of the School, who worked directly with a consulting design team from Regenesis. On October 1st the Core Team presented the draft plan at our annual Faculty Meeting (see John Connell’s introduction on video), and on November 5th the team presented an updated plan to the Board. We are now looking for feedback from the larger Yestermorrow community before our next meeting on December 15th.

This memo outlines the process and work to date which is detailed further in the Executive Summary and the Grounding and Process Report. There is still much to do, of course, but we have made impressive progress in the past four months. And yet this is not a finished study nor should the drawings be interpreted as a final site plan. Rather, this is a “principled gesture” or bubble diagram of where natural functions and educational activities should be accommodated and placed on the land, based on our Purpose and Principles.

The Yestermorrow Board has done the hard work of developing our core purpose so that it resonates with all our disparate members:

The Yestermorrow Design/Build School’s purpose is to learn together, through shared inquiry and hands-on experience, the ways of making human habitat,
In a way that expands our understanding of who we are and how to live in beneficial interrelationship with the earth and each other,

So that we all can thrive in a world with limited resources and unlimited potential.

Along with Regenesis, the Core Team has developed Design and Process Principles (see p.14-15 , Master Planning Grounding and Process Report) so that as we move forward with the actual design and building, we can continually ground ourselves in these Design Principles. This will allow us to make certain that each of the five stakeholders in the “Pentad” benefit (Grounding and Process Report page 13-14). This is how we embrace the largest, evolving vision without becoming misguided or inflexible as time passes.

Some may be surprised to learn that we are not presenting a final design for Board approval or modification. Rather, we offer a means of distilling Yestermorrow’s Purpose and Principles into the built form of its campus. By approving the “principled gesture” (bubble diagram) presented, and the process by which it was articulated, the Board has taken the most difficult first step in creating our school’s future in this valley. On November 5th the Board voted to authorize the Core Team to oversee the continued work on the Master Plan.

We have defined a series of Next Steps to be tackled by the Core Team over the winter, outlined in the Core Team meeting notes from 11.17.11. These include conducting a site survey, researching permitting, talking with experts in the fields of wastewater, surface water, and solar access, getting feedback on the draft plan, and obtaining funding to move these steps forward.

As always, the Yestermorrow community’s insights and suggestions are needed and welcomed. We invite you to review the following documents and submit your questions, feedback and thoughts to the Core Team by December 15th. Please send comments and feedback by email to and she will compile them and disseminate to the larger group.

Kinny Perot
Robin Morris
John Connell
Gillian Davis
Kate Stephenson
(2011 Core Team Members)

Documents for Review:

The Overview PDF includes:
- Regenesis' Master Planning Process- Executive Summary 10.15.11
- Appendix: "How to Start A Design Conversation at Yestermorrow" by John Connell
- An aerial photo of the YM campus site to provide context
- A copy of the "working site plan" version 10.19.11
- A "bubble diagram" detailing the different zones, access etc

You can also download the full Grounding and Process Report prepared by Regenesis which provides additional detail and notes from board meetings and workshops held throughout the spring and summer of 2011.

We have also created a blog where we are posting meeting notes, draft plans, and other documents:

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