Posts tagged with "Backyard"

The inflatable pool has become the official symbol of America’s lost summer

July 24, 2020

Many Americans would say that their favorite “watering hole” this summer is above-ground, in the backyard. While the heat ratchets up—and many community pools remain closed for the duration of the pandemic—the symbol for “better than nothing,” has become the inflatable pool

There are plastic pools for every size and breed—doggy pools, kiddy pools, and bigger ones that can fit a whole family—but many already are sold out nationwide, The Washington Post reports.

That was the situation that Aaron Kraus faced, the news outlet says, and his kids are now happily spending the summer splashing around in a pool made for dogs.

“We went on Amazon to look for kiddie pools, and they were sold out until, like, way into the fall,” Kraus, 37, of Rockville, Maryland said in an interview. “We told them it’s a doggie pool. They couldn’t care less.

“It’s very 2020,” he added, meaning the act of “putting together really ad hoc solutions to a dystopian nightmare.”

Some pool-seekers have plunged into something more like farce. Jess Flynn, of Boise, Idaho, told the Post that she bought what she thought was a five-foot doggy pool on eBay. When it arrived, Flynn said, “I just kind of screamed, kind of laughed”: The pool was just large enough to fit a very small hamster.

“ ‘This is so 2020,’ is what I thought as soon as I saw it,” she said. “Like, the promise of something fun. And then the reality of what this year has brought.”

Flynn said she might use it as a water bowl for her and her neighbor’s pets.

The same thing happened to Bill Ribas of Pittsford, New York —same product, same disappointment. Ribas says he was offered a full refund if he would pay to ship the pool back to China. Instead, he has reclaimed it as a foot bath.

Some of those who succeed in acquiring a dog- or even human-sized pool are finding that these inflatable substitutes can become a reminder of how much you miss the real thing.

Carla Green, 28, of Los Angeles, told the Post that it came down to “the balance between how good of a time I had and how much of a pain it is to inflate it,” adding,” And draining it is no simple task, either. When you fill a pool with that much water, it’s really heavy. You can’t just, like, dump it out.” She realized that the hard way when she temporarily flooded her backyard.

Robert Burke, 39, bought a large inflatable pool last summer for his backyard north of Pittsburgh, but his children barely used it because the water was too cold and the bottom got slimy. This summer, as the pandemic stripped away many other entertainment options, Burke saw an opportunity to really do it right.

Thus began a series of Amazon purchases, all side-eyed by his wife: hoses, a pump, a pool skimmer, a chlorine float, various chemicals and test strips, a WiFi-controlled timer for the filter, a weatherproof cabinet to house the pump, an underwater vacuum, valves, clamps and a custom pool cover. His $60 kiddie pool quickly turned into a $560 pool.

If kiddie pools are symbols of compromise, Burke’s project was a symbol of defiant resolve, reports the news outlet. “I’ll always think of it as, like, this manic dumping ground for all the things I wished I was doing,” he said. “And really what we’re talking about is a bunch of water that two kids pee in.” (As for his children: “When they’re in it, they love it,” Burke said, but given that they have the attention spans of a 2- and 4-year-old, they will often climb out and make a beeline for the swings instead.)

“To work all day and just get out of the stale air conditioning and into this nice body of water with my little cocktail and just sit there for 45 minutes and relax,” said Heather Hart, 43, of Minneapolis. “It was lovely. Totally worth $124.” (Even though her dogs are scared of it, and it’s killing some of her grass.)

Makisha Thompson, 46, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was brainstorming with six friends about safe, socially distanced ways to see each other. They realized they could each get their own inflatable pool for $22. “We literally went from Aldi to Aldi,” she said, referring to the supermarket chain, “looking for these pools until we had enough.”

It took hours to fill them all up. The women then separated the pools with tiki torches and arranged them in a circle around a giant watermelon-shaped sprinkler Thompson found at Walmart. Then they settled in for a sunny afternoon drinking boozy punch.

Happiness reigned supreme. “We call ourselves the little backyard beauties,” Thompson said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

After she sues neighbors for ‘meat smell,’ massive BBQ planned outside vegan’s home

September 5, 2019

Is that shrimp on the barbie? Or is it fish, chicken, steak, or burgers? A  vegan woman living in Perth, Australia, doesn’t care. She says any meat is disgusting and she recently filed a lawsuit against her meat-cooking neighbors to stop them from “stinking up” their backyard—and by proximity, hers, according to 9 News Australia.

Now, a neighborhood cookout has been planned in her honor—right outside her home, the news outlet says.

The veggie-loving woman, Cilla Carden, took the case against her next-door neighbors to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in late 2018.

She said the residents of the house next door were intentionally interrupting her gardening time, complaining,  “It’s deliberate. All I can smell is fish I can’t enjoy my backyard. I can’t go out there.”

Carden, a massage therapist, also is at furious about the smell of cigarette smoke wafting into her yard and the sound of children playing basketball next door.

“It’s been devastating, it’s been turmoil, it’s been unrest, I haven’t been able to sleep,” she said.

Now, nearly 9,000 Australians are RSVPing “yes” to an invitation to attend a community cookout outside this woman’s home called “Community BBQ for Cilla Carden” and scheduled for October. 19.

“Don’t let Cilla destroy a good old Aussie tradition, join us for a community BBQ, and help Cilla Carden GET SOME PORK ON HER FORK,” the invitation says.

The UK Evening Standard reported that the court dismissed her case in January, saying she didn’t have enough evidence, but Carden was convinced this was a violation of her rights as a homeowner. She filed a 600-page document detailing her appeal, The West Australian reported, saying that she intended to keep fighting the battle.

“What they’re doing is living in their backyard and their home as a family,” the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia said, dismissing the case once more.

Research contact: @9NewsAUS

Airbnb’s Samara group to design and construct homes for communal living

December 3, 2018

Airbnb has already changed the way people travel. Now, the eight-year-old company is aiming to bring the peer-to-peer economy to housing, with the introduction of Backyard—described on a new website as “an initiative to protype new ways homes can be built and shared, guided by an ambition to realize more humanistic, future-oriented, and waste-conscious design.”

Airbnb’s design studio, Samara, announced the project on November 28, CNBC reports. The Backyard initiative will “investigate how building could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time.”

The goal: To test prototypes Backyard units as soon as the fall of 2019.

“We began with a simple question: What does a home that is designed and built for sharing actually look and feel like?” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia—who alo serves as the leader of the design and innovation studio Samara—said in a statement about Backyard. “The answer is not simple at all.

“Other questions quickly emerged,” said Gebbia. “Can a home respond to the needs of many inhabitants over a long period of time? Can it support and reflect the tremendous diversity of human experience? Can it keep up with the rate at which the world changes? Can we accomplish this without filling landfills with needless waste?

“It’s a tall order.”

While there are no details about what the homes might look like or how much they will cost, Gebbia told Fast Company that Backyard isn’t just about a house, it’s an “initiative to rethink the home.”

“We helped people activate underutilized space—from a spare bedroom or treehouse to your apartment while you’re away—and built a community that connected people around the world,” Gebbia said. “With Backyard, we’re using the same lens through which Airbnb was envisioned—the potential of space—and applying it more broadly to architecture and construction.”

As The Washington Post points out, the project “could augment Airbnb’s home-rental marketplace, adding real estate development to its portfolio, as cities continue to limit the company’s short-term rentals.” Cities from New York to Washington, D.C., and Boston are passing regulations that have the effect of restricting Airbnb offerings.

Airbnb management started the initiative by surveying the construction industry for practical solutions—but quickly found that it would be “necessary to start from a blank slate.”

“If we’re truly going to reimagine the design of homes,” Gebbia remarked, “ we have to be holistic. We can’t approach Backyard solely from the point of view of design, architecture, urbanism, civic ordinance, sustainable materiality, or manufacturing. We have to grapple with the whole of it.”

He said, “For us, this goes beyond a business opportunity. It’s a social responsibility. The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste. In order to meet the demands of the future, whether it be climate displacement or rural-urban migration, the home needs to evolve, to think forward.”

It’s a tall order—and, says CNBC, Airbnb is not the only company expanding into residential real estate and shared living space: In 2016, collaborative workspace startup WeWork launched WeLive— which currently has two apartment locations (one in New York City and the other in D.C.). Both have dorm-like living spaces and communal social spaces.

Research contact: @sarahelizberger