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Designing and Building a Sustainable Future

January 2008 Newsletter

In This Issue
Yestermorrow Profile: John Abrams
Hands-on Education: Cabinets and Built-ins
Yestermorrow on YouTube

Yestermorrow Profile:
John Abrams

"We think about our work as the cathedral builders thought about theirs. We try to think for generations, as we try to build for generations." - John Abrams

John Abrams

In 1975, John Abrams and his best friend Mitchell Posin ventured to Martha's Vineyard to build a house for John's parents. What began as a summertime detour and a passion for woodworking became permanent residency and business success.


Since 1976, John has served as president of South Mountain Company, an employee-owned design/build and renewable energy company, which today has 32 employees (over half of whom share ownership in the business), has designed and built more than 100 major renovation and new housing projects, and earns $7 million in annual revenues.

As a proponent of working for the benefit of people and community, John explores the role of business in promoting community, creating social equity, and maintaining ecological balance. He challenges conventional business concepts: that bigger is better, that profits come first, and that location is incidental. The narratives found in his resonant memoir, The Company We Keep , demonstrate that one can bring high personal values to the workplace, protect natural resources, uphold high standards of craftsmanship, control growth, and still run a successful (and highly collaborative) enterprise.

John and his co-owners have made a long-term commitment to using their business to preserve community and help solve the Vineyard's affordable housing crisis. John is deeply involved in community service. He formerly chaired the Island Affordable Housing Fund and serves on its board, as well as that of the Island Housing Trust, and is a member of the steering committee for the Martha's Vineyard Commission's Island Plan.


John is a member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (he was presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award after many years as a board member), Corporation 2020, the North American Timber Framers Guild, and the advisory board of Environmental Building News.


John brings his popular class Redefining Small Business back to Yestermorrow February 9-10.

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As planet earth begins a new rotation, and the calendar signifies a new year, my thoughts naturally turn to the lengthening days ahead, despite the ice and snow that seems to have frozen everything, including time, in place.

A new year means many things. Resolutions. Tax time. Time for change. Fresh starts. Personal reflection. Opportunity for growth.

Yestermorrow Spring Summer CatalogIt seems that I'm not the only one looking ahead. The phone here at Yestermorrow has been ringing non-stop. Our Spring/Summer '08 Course Catalog has just been sent out and posted on our website. Late winter and early spring is a great time to dig into oneself: learn a new skill or hone an old one; push a boundary or comfort zone; or turn a dream into a reality.

Yestermorrow is stretching its wings as well. Out of our 79 courses for the '08 Spring/Summer Semester, 14 of them are new, including Ecological Water Systems, Deconstruction and Material Re-Use, and Designing Small Living Spaces. We constantly make efforts to improve our offerings and respond to the learning needs of our students. As our mission says, we strive to inspire people to create a better, more sustainable world.

Each one of us has a fresh opportunity to change our world and make it a better place, and make ourselves better along the way. Happy New Year and Carpe Diem!

Erin Russell-Story,
Yestermorrow Community Relations Director

Build it Yourself


Cabinets and Built-ins class '06Why pay a premium for commercial cabinets that  look like everyone else's when you can build your own unique ones for less and have a lot of fun doing it?

Cabinets and Built-ins (Feb. 3-8) will show you exactly how to build your own custom cabinetry, from simple utility units to elegant kitchen and bath cabinets. Students will learn a system that relies on just three simple joints and requires only two principle tools: the table saw and the router. It is easily within the reach of almost anybody, even those with little woodworking experience.
Topics to be covered include designing cabinets to fit your own aesthetics and budget, laying out and measuring, building cases (or cabinet boxes), adding doors and/or drawers, selecting and utilizing hardware, and finishing and installing the end product. We'll build a group project which allows each student to experience all aspects of a cabinet job.

Expanding Our Web Presence 

YouTubeWe're pleased to announce that  Yestermorrow was just accepted by YouTube to participate in their non-profit charity program. Check out the Yestermorrow YouTube Channel here.
 The program gives non-profit organizations, like Yestermorrow, a way to reach out to the world's largest online video community with video hosting and outreach campaigns.
Please visit our channel, post comments and recommend our videos to friends, family and colleagues. This is a great way to introduce others across the web to the Yestermorrow community and inspire even more people to create a better, more sustainable world. Please show your support of Yestermorrow by becoming a subscriber on our channel.
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