Building a Pad for the Little ‘Green’ House

WHAT/WHY/WHO? – Imagine a Hobbit House that’s actually a greenhouse and tool shed tucked into a corner of a forest walking trail that helps the public achieve calm and peace of mind. That build exists, and it’s a prototype for off-grid housing being built by young people and pro volunteers in Clement Forest this summer! And we get to help prep the site! This week’s project is perfect for the person who likes to use muscle for good, and loves being involved in technical projects.

WEAR/BRING/GET – Wear shoes with significant tread and thick clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty, but will keep you warm. Bring yourself and a smile! We’re ready to use our flatbed trailer, but if you’ve got a big hauling vehicle, bring it & let’s do this! Also, if you have one to bring, we would never turn away an extra rake on site, if you promise to have your name written on it & take it back home with you. We provide work gloves, landscaping rakes, shovels and filtered water.

PROJECT DETAILS – Kansas City’s professional chapter of Engineers Without Borders is designing a workspace for the local conservators of a 4-acre forest trail located in an inner southeast Kansas City residential area. The structure will serve both EWB-KC and Clement Waters as a prototype for a small off-grid house that could be used in rural areas with three factors weighing against quality of life: 1.) not well connected to utilities; 2.) increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness; and 3.) shrinking housing stock. This structure will need to prove itself in three areas to be considered usable in logistically disconnected areas: 1.) delivering potable drinking water from water collected from the roof; 2.) storing and providing solar-generated electricity; and 3.) maintaining steady, habitable internal temperatures without the aid of air-conditioning or heating, year-round. With success, this building design can be duplicated as transitional housing in other areas of the country, and eventually as housing in other areas of the globe. Youth Volunteer Corps members will build the pilot structure this summer, starting in June.

PERKS – Coming out to volunteer at Clement Forest usually means taking away a feeling of inner calm, since the property is surrounded by the serene Blue River Greenway. The physical work done helps relieve tension. Think of the stress relief as our gift to you for helping define this calming space in service of others.

BACKGROUND – In February 2018 an environmental involvement nonprofit, Clement Waters Retreat, acquired the vacant lot that is now Clement Forest. Volunteers from all over the states of Kansas and Missouri came to clear over 400 yards of trail, remove 30 cubic yards of dumped large items, and remove 50 cubic yards of bush honeysuckle. The project took on a social justice element when volunteers realized that much of the waste removed was from the 1970’s, when ‘white flight’ changed the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood and contractors were hired to renovate and update homes. The hired contractors saved money by dumping in the forest behind the houses, convinced that it wouldn’t matter. Now, nearly 50 years later, this organization is saying, ‘The forest does matter, and so do the people living around it.’ They plan to make the trail into a peaceful gathering place for the residents who have made the area their home.

BOTTOM LINE – We’re excited to have you join us as we help nature take back her rightful place in KC’s hearts and minds! Urban residents are afraid of the woods, but a forest offers more benefits than dangers! Let’s make nature accessible to all.

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