Mission Hills homeowner mows message of support for Ukraine into yard — Here’s what it says

Rusty Leffel Stand with Ukraine yard

Rusty Leffel, a Mission Hills resident, mowed "Stand with Ukraine" into his yard to signal to the nation that the eastern European country needs to remain a top concern amid the ongoing Russian invasion. Photo courtesy Rusty Leffel.

Rusty Leffel, a Mission Hills homeowner, attorney and photographer, hopes  a new message mowed into the grass in his backyard resonates not only with Johnson Countians but with the country.

What’s he saying? Leffel mowed the words “Stand with Ukraine” into his backyard in an effort to keep up support for that country amid the ongoing Russian invasion, which the UN says has now resulted in nearly 13,000 civilian casualties since it began in February.

  • While there was an initial wave of shock and, then, support when the invasion began, the focus on Ukraine has flagged in the months since.
  • Leffel said he and his wife, Paula, feel strongly about continuing to support Ukraine and oppose Russian aggression.
  • As the pair pondered what more they could do, they decided to turn their yard into a “canvas for something good.”
  • Leffel said the message not only voices support for Ukraine but is stance against “invasions… brutal attacks.. genocide.”

Key quote: “It is truly a world issue that touches all of us, if not directly, very indirectly,” Leffel said. “It affects our world, peace and our future. I feel strongly about that part of it, yes.”

It’s reach: Part of Leffel’s goal is to spread the message locally, nationally and even internationally, to keep Ukraine at the forefront of the public’s mind.

  • Leffel frequently posts on social media in direct response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with photos of the yard art, often getting a number of likes and comments.
  • Also, the KU Medical News Network featured Leffel’s art on a recent episode of its daily health briefing:

The details: Leffel said it took about one day to mow the words “Stand with Ukraine” into his yard but spent a longer chunk of time planning how he would do it.

What’s next? Leffel is thinking about using nontoxic, water-based yard paint to add yellow and blue — the Ukrainian national colors — to the yard message.

  • This would be a second iteration of the piece, which will continue to be maintained until the war ends, Leffel said.
  • “This thing, I hope, is not forever,” Leffel told the Post. “The world needs to bring this to a close.”