Sorry, Mayor, but residents shouldn’t have to cut back on DIY projects to help with trash pickup | Jenice Armstrong

Shari Williams laughs as she takes a break from tending to her backyard oasis in Philadelphia, Pa. on Aug. 11, 2020. It’s where she took refuge when her husband, State Sen. Anthony Williams, had coronavirus.DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Renee Williams started working on her backyard last year, but she began focusing on it even more after being quarantined at home.

She and her husband are transforming an unattached garage into a party space, complete with new walls, flooring, a bar, and built-in seating in East Oak Lane.

“We just kind of go out there, because there’s really nowhere else to go,” said Williams, a vice president and senior auditor for a financial services firm who now works from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s our oasis.”

Granted, putting out a fake plant, outdoor string lights, and bright-colored cushions is a far cry from Tahiti, but during challenging times like these, you make do. It’s a fun hobby that was fueled after I got added to a Facebook page devoted to outdoor living spaces. There, I discovered a tribe of similarly inspired women who post about transforming backyards or apartment balconies into personal havens. Dionne Watts-Williams of West Germantown recently added a privacy fence and solar-powered lights, installed sod, and planted hydrangeas along the perimeter of her yard.

“This whole thing with the pandemic has really pushed me to get some things done,” said Watts-Williams, communications and special events manager for the Fairmount Water Works. “That’s where I go now in the evenings. That’s Mommy’s hangout.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many residents to spend much more time at home, generating an excessive amount of trash,” Kenney pointed out during an Aug. 4 briefing. “Industry reports note residential trash increases by more than 25% nationally, and that includes here in Philadelphia.”

“I understand what he’s saying. I understand that there is a lot of extra trash,” Watts-Williams told me. “But a lot of it is not just due to DIY. It’s due to people being home.”

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