Yestermorrow Design/Build School is tucked into a valley in Waitsfield, Vt. You basically take a left off of Interstate 89, head past a bunch of cow fields, keep the stream on your right, and turn before you get to the birch trees and... ummm.... solar panel arrays. You get the idea.
This is the perfect kind of place to learn how to build things by hand using tools and techniques that have been around for hundreds of years. This is the anti-Ikea.
This assignment was more about the school than the individual class. Wood working classes can be found in just about every city and town in the country. A flip through the Yestermorrow class catalog reveals classes ranging from Timber Framing to Edible Forest Gardens, to Super-Insulation for Zero-Energy Buildings. They also offer courses throughout the year in building with reclaimed materials, solar panel installation, and farm design. But lest you think that this is just a hippy school specializing in obscure alternative practices, you should know that they are a registered provider of continuing education classes for the American Institute of Architecture (The same folks that bring us, you know, skyscrapers) and the University of Vermont.
What Yestermorrow does incredibly well is blending traditional handicraft and general building practices of yesterday with new technologies and techniques.
(You guessed it, Yesterday + Tomorrow = Yestermorrow.)
Now that you're interested, visit them at www.Yestermorrow.org