This week the Near West Side Partners interviewed a resident from Milwaukee’s Pigsville neighborhood about how his community has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. William is a long time Wisconsin resident that grew up in Shorewood and moved into Milwaukee’s Pigsville neighborhood about six years ago. He is an Artist, Designer, and Musician married with two young children. We talked about how his family and neighborhood has been faring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Billy explained to me how his family has fared within these unprecedented times, highlighting everything from keeping his young children entertained, to neighborhood hangout spots, to managing his career as an artist.
First, Billy and I talked about some of the challenges of managing young children amid quarantine, and he explained that it was tough for the kids to be cooped up in the house. One thing he emphasized was the importance of spending time in the outdoors with the kids, to help them get out all their energy while also maintaining social distancing and getting some fresh air. We also discussed how difficult it was for the kids to not see their friends and how they didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t play on the playground with their pals like normal. Overall, he said that his kids had handled the changes well, but that it wasn’t easy keeping them cooped up to protect from COVID-19.
Billy and I also talked about how the pandemic has affected his work as an artist, musician, and designer. He explained how the inability to connect in person with his clients has been very challenging, noting that for a while he had almost no source of income without his usual work flow. Most of Billy’s neighbors also experienced this same thing, with many members of his community losing their jobs or being furloughed by their companies due to complications from the coronavirus. The Pigsville neighborhood has had its fair share of complications and issues due to the virus, however Billy remained very optimistic and explained that there have been relatively few cases among his neighbors and his personal life. Billy’s optimism and overall positivity was very inspiring to hear, and hearing about all the ways that his neighbors had worked together to stay safe in the face of uncertainty was a breath of fresh air.
His neighborhood even banded together to support a local business, the Valley Inn. Billy talked about how the business struggled in adapting to COVID regulations, but was met with support and patronage from his neighbors to help keep it afloat. One of the other things the Pigsville residents have done to stay connected was start a community garden. Billy explained how socially distant gardening has created a beautiful assortment of flowers and plants, as seen in the background of his photo with his family. These types of initiatives are very important in keeping our community together while also ensuring our fellow Milwaukeeans stay safe and healthy.