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Work for a Cause // Wade Byers


Written by Wade Byers

One of the many results of our hard labor thus far: the board-formed retaining wall.

"Work for a Cause"


When an opportunity presents itself to work for a cause that‘s greater than yourself, do you take it? The answer lies on a person by person basis. Actions speak louder than words, so I put my words into action by participating in the design and creation of an affordable housing duplex located in the Waldo neighborhood of, Kansas City. When you begin to work for something that’s greater than yourself, you tend to invest a huge amount of time into the project. This project in particular has many design and man hours invested to make a quality product that will be a shining accomplishment for all who has participated. Our studio is based in Manhattan, Kansas but our site is in the Waldo neighborhood of, Kansas City, which is an investment of 2 hours and 2 minutes of time traveling one way, yet, in a day, 4 hours and 4 minutes. Working for something that’s bigger than yourself will not always be at a close vicinity to your location, so travel can be a huge part of your time commitment. With our studio doing much of the labor, which alleviates some budget concerns for our general contractor, this allows our cause of affordability to take place due to reduction in labor costs. Undertaking the manual labor is a hard, but rewarding task at all times. Your focus must always be present because if you lose your focus, the precision of construction will take the greatest hit. A great rule of thumb is “measure twice, cut once”. While working construction work, injury is eminent. While there are many safety precautions put into place, the unforeseen still lurks. For example, unstable ground becomes a dangerous situation when presented with the choices of falling towards OSB with nails sticking out of it to catch yourself, or fall to the ground wielding a crowbar. I went with the crowbar and ended up with a gash across my palm, while it hurt, I had to remind myself that I would rather be hurt working on a project that has a goal for helping the underprivileged, rather than a large corporation. We, as a studio, are dedicated to the task at hand to finish the duplex on a schedule, on a budget, and with meticulous precision. While it’s not on track to be completed before graduation, we have committed to volunteering our time after graduation to see this project finished.

Abstract: Time is a one directional element that never reverses itself. You can never buy time or get it back, so with something so finite how do you to spend it?


Audience: To those that have the resources available to pursue a cause, and within their capabilities, to produce something that's greater than themselves.

One of my main scopes of the project: the corrugated metal skin.

While we are completing this duplex pro bono, that doesn't mean that our money is not changing hands. Driving to and from Kansas City is a 254-mile round trip trek, we are expected to shell out money from our own pockets to make this happen. There is a motor pool set up for our cause to shuttle the herd of students to and fro, but that is not always a case. Most instances we are required to drive our own cars, fill our own gas tanks, and provide food for ourselves with no hope of getting anything in return. College is typically a time when we are low on cash because we take out a tremendous amount of money for student loans, we understand the hardships that come with financial insecurity. Yet, we are empathetic for those that we know are in dire need of affordable housing. Kansas City rental rates are increasing, with the highest increases hitting the neighborhoods with the lowest of incomes. Our Duplex is in a prime piece of real estate since it straddles the business and residential line, close to public transportation, and close to pharmacies and grocery stores. We are ensuring that the people who cannot afford the rising costs of renting rates are not subject to an invisible cloak that tends to fall upon the lowest wage earners in our society. We are building a home for people who normally cannot afford homes, we are building a home for people who need security, we are building home because we want to be a part of the future that Waldo has to offer. We are dedicating some of our money to help others who are less fortunate. We buy tools that we need to make the duplex stand, we buy food to allow us to work throughout the day, and through this we are allowing happiness for others that we may never meet. While we are sacrificing our time and money, we do this for a cause that’s better than ourselves.


We, as the Design+Make studio, are in a position to help with the cause of affordable housing in Kansas City. We have taken meticulous thought about the types of spaces we are creating and how they will be inhabited. We have thought about the urban environment, and how our exterior siding and landscape will integrate into the neighborhood. We know our ideas will impact more than those who live in the building, but those who live outside is as well. The Waldo community has taken interest in what we are trying to accomplish. Neighbors walk up and down the street peering onto our site, anxiously awaiting the next big development. Many have stopped us to ask us what we are doing because their curiosity has taken ahold of them. The neighbors have been kind, appreciative of our work and supportive of what we are trying to develop for the community. Working on site I view people cruising down the street, slowing at our project site, then continuing on their way. Subcontractors, mailmen, or workers from the city come by for a small portion of work they are there to do and are intrigued in our progress, ambitions and goal. We are in a position to make a change for the better, and by judging the reactions of all who we have been in contact with, I believe we are in the right track for helping this community.


 Throughout this year, we have spent countless hours working and developing ideas that translate to onsite work, money, and time to ensure this affordable housing duplex will come to life. We have taken on this project because we want to give back to those who are neglected from society. We want to provide affordable housing because no one else has the audacity to take on such a project. We know this will have a tremendous impact on people's lives  and we are elated to know that we had a hand in creating it. We have been self-sacrificing because we are working for a cause that's bigger than ourselves.

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