High School Hut to Hut

Practical understanding:

Students from at least three high schools enroll in a CTE construction or STEAM, project-based course to build a “high school hut-to-hut” experience.  Over the course of one year (preferably) they design and build hut accommodations and decide on a trail system on which to place them. The huts may be tiny homes with bunks for sleeping accommodations.  Plumbing and electrical systems, if any, is based on where the shelter is placed.  The trail system will attempt to incorporate as much natural land as possible.  The routes will be determined by the participating schools.  During a weeklong “trekking event” at the end of the year, students and adult chaperones will travel from one school’s shelter to the other.  This is an epic undertaking as it is traveled only by human powered means; by foot, bike, or boat. This culminating event provides students an opportunity to participate in a “hero’s journey,” leaving their home schools and returning with new perspectives and stories to share with their peers.  

3 Guiding Principles:   

Land Literacy: 

  • gaining an understanding of the natural geographical features of our homeland

Design Literacy:

  • learning to work and design with others
  • Deciding on and adhering to a guiding “ethic” or intention for the project

Practical Skills Literacy

  • learning to build a tiny home (or some other type of movable shelter) 

Curriculum: 

In following Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Framework, curriculum will support students to consciously experience what humans need to survive and thrive:  food, water and shelter, safety, relationships, respect for oneself and others, and opportunities to realize one’s full potential.

  • September & October:  “The basics:”  food, water, shelter – introduce idea, decide on routes and design tiny homes; question traditional tiny home designs, consider alternatives, acquire materials
  • November & December:  Safety:  security and stability – vet routes, delegate jobs, find expertise, build shelters
  • January & February:  Relationships: sense of belonging – build shelter, develop relationships with landowners and other support, establish an “ethic/intention” for all participants
  • March & April:  Esteem/self-compassion:  respect for yourself and others – physically train, reflect
  • May:  Self-actualization:  realizing your full potential – weeklong, “hero’s journey” trekking event

Why? To empower youth to design and build basic infrastructure (transportation systems and housing) specifically intended to connect them to themselves, the land, and each other.  It starts with building agency, a can-do spirit to create better and more sensible living conditions starting with the basics:  where and how we travel, where and how we design, build, and live in shelter, and where and how we acquire food.  These early experiments of creating high school hut to hut trail systems throughout the country may have a spillover effect on transportation, housing and food systems of the future.   

Youth reportedly have higher levels of anxiety and depression than ever before and lack the resiliency for a changing world.  They report a desire for more hands-on learning like building and spending time in nature.  This project may provide them with much of what they are craving and needing:  a sense of agency, hands-on, more fully-embodied and transformative experiences/rites of passage, opportunities to experiment and make real-world change, a sense of belonging, authenticity, deeper connections to themselves, others and the land/nature/their community, and more time to be able to engage in these ways.   

Who we are and what we’re offering?  The project is being led by Sara Poisson, passionate nature lover with an eye for connecting the dots. US Green Building Council Redwood Empire Chapter (USGBCREC) is supporting this experimental program. The USGBCREC vision and mission is to improve the quality of life by transforming the design, composition, and operation of the places where we live, learn, work, and play within the short space of a generation. As a North Bay based non-profit USGBCREC will provide guidance on building the partnerships, donations, sponsorship, and/or expertise from the building industry to help this project succeed. Many of us are architects and have affiliations with the building industry. The project is also supported by Camino de Sonoma, an organization that conducts multi-day pilgrimages across Sonoma County. We are hoping to find at least 3 interested schools/teachers willing to meet throughout this school year to build this program; much of the design of the shelters and trail system are determined by the locations of participating schools. Next school year we hope to implement it within the schools.