Friday, May 9, 2008

Yestermorrow: A Groovy Place To Be

Yestermorrow is the design/build school I'll be interning at this summer. Don't worry--"A Groovy Place To Be" is not it's slogan, although doesn't it sound like it fits? The school has a two-fold purpose. First, they aim to integrate design and construction, two phases of the building process that have become increasingly become disconnected. Architects should know how to swing a hammer and builders should have an understanding of the philosophy of design behind what they're building. I'm excited to gain a more nuanced understanding of the design/build movement in the coming months. Secondly, Yestermorrow is committed to sustainable building techniques--strategies that tread lighter on the earth and that will benefit humans now and for generations to come. During my two years at Nazareth Farm, while I certainly believed in fixing leaky rooves and siding unprotected houses, I became increasingly convinced that, because of unsustainable building methods, we were taking one step forward, two steps back. Vinyl siding, galvanized nails, treated lumber, fiberglass insulation...I became more and more aware of these materials' toxic components and consequences. Factory workers who produce the materials are exposed to harmful chemicals that can cause serious health problems. The waste generated from modern construction techniques is horrendous, and that waste goes to rot in landfills that may leech into local water sources. Builders must use all kinds of protection like earplugs, respirators, and skin gaurds if they are to shield themselves from long-term consequences of repeated exposure.

I believe that there is a better way, a more beautiful way, a more wholistic and healthy approach to building. Yestermorrow does too! They offer two- to fourteen-day intenstive courses on everything from passive solar heating and green rooftops to detail carpentry and building a house out of straw bales. From what I can tell, it is a place that values community, creativity, hard work and communication. Sounds like my kind of place.

Every season Yestermorrow hires about five interns who are integral to the operation of the school. We'll be washing dishes, going on supply runs, creating newsletters, doing grounds maintenance and more. In exchange, we get room and board and can take a week of classes for every month we're there, as well as several weekend workshops. The real reason I'm going, though, is because I hear there's an amazing swimming hole just down the road. :) To close I'll leave my contact info for the letter-writers and care-package-senders among you. Better yet, come visit and see what's so groovy about Yestermorrow!

Erin Campbell
189 VT Route 100
Warren, VT 05674