HAYS — The Neighbor Project of Ellis County has brought its signature black-and-white couch to several public events throughout the last year, but one project volunteer hopes an event last week will be a model for future projects.
Deb and Steve Ludwig offered their home at 2010 Main on Saturday morning for Donuts on the Driveway, inviting their neighbors for some conversation along with the treats, coffee and cider.
“I’ve lived in this house for a couple of years now, and it’s just hard to get to know people in the neighborhood. People don’t sit on their front porches like they used to,” Deb Ludwig said. “So I was just interested in meeting some of my neighbors."
The Ludwigs’ home is hard to miss. It is located where Main Street turns north at 21st Street.
And then there’s the giant chicken sculpture overlooking the intersection from their yard.
“We were in Olathe and saw the chicken in front of an antique store. I liked it and he (Steve) got the chicken for me for a birthday present,” Deb said.
The chicken’s name is Chance, but there’s not much of a story behind that, she said.
“It just makes you smile. You drive into the driveway and it’s just kind of a silly thing,” she said.
About 30 people stopped by during the two-hour event. Ludwig had printed up some invitations and delivered them to neighbors and also posted it on Nextdoor, a social networking site built around actual neighborhoods.
The Neighbor Project originated from Strategic Doing, the community improvement initiative by the Dane G. Hansen and Heartland Community foundations.
“What they wanted to accomplish from the project was to ensure Hays is an all-inclusive community,” said Sandy Jacobs, executive director of the Heartland Community Foundation.
“It’s one of those groups that finally understood it’s not about doing anything big and magnanimous,” Jacobs said of the Strategic Doing goal. “It can be a step at a time going in the right direction, doing the right thing.”
Ludwig said she saw a model for the Donuts on the Driveway online and decided to try it out.
“It’s more personal when you do it in your own neighborhood. And I got to meet people I did not know before from the neighborhood, so that was really fun,” she said.
She said she hopes it becomes a pilot project for future Neighbor Project events.
“We’re hoping maybe that we can kind of package this up as a kit so it’s just really something easy to do, even have the folding chairs if people want to borrow those and make it a real simple thing,” she said.