Societal Issues Targeted:
- Reducing distance and distrust between strangers
- Showing everyone that they are surrounded by positive, happy, and friendly people
Pillow Fights 4 Connection is a wonderfully engaging way to bring your community closer together. Just grab a few friends, ask them to bring pillows, then pick a place and go!
If you can gather a small (or big) pile of spare pillows, it becomes really, really easy to get hundreds of people to join in–just stand next to a busy place where a lot of people walk and offer a pillow to everyone you see. If they smile at you, it’s a sign that they like the event’s idea so make sure to throw them a pillow to catch! Once it’s in their hands, nearly everyone who smiled could not resist joining in, laughing and having a great time with people in their community they haven’t met before. What a wonderful outcome in a time when adults are often afraid of talking or communicating with people they haven’t met before! You can grab cheap pillows for under £1 or $1 from several dollar stores. Animal rights groups would prefer you don’t use feather ones – apparently, they are not collected in a very nice way.
This event is a perfect opportunity to make connection into the daily lives of different people going about their lives in your community. Each event we run makes this positive communication between strangers more normal in our daily lives, reducing the distance between us all and bringing where you live one step closer to a place where everyone feels connected to a friendly and safe community!
Pillow Fights 4 Connection can draw big crowds, although the most successful one I’ve run started with just a small group of friends. Big groups, I observe, are so busy having fun with each other that they get distracted from inviting people passing by to join in. Smaller groups naturally try harder to invite the people passing by to participate, and so are better at spreading the idea of using events to reach out and connect with our local community.
On our Road Trip, I regularly take 40 pillows alone on a busy place as a great way to meet people and make friends. After 30 minutes of looking rather silly, I always get a few brave folk to join, and after that it becomes easy – if I decided to stay for 3 or 4 hours, I would easily get hundreds of passers-by interacting and having fun with people they wouldn’t normally have talked to. If you and some friends can gather some spare pillows, it is probably the easiest and one of the most effective Focallocal events to run, and those pillows can be washed and reused for multiple times! Many of those who don’t join in still get a lift and smile just from seeing that people would give their time and energy inviting others to participate in something that is out of the ordinary.
Please read: To succeed in bringing your community closer together, everyone has to feel welcome to join in! Please offer pillows to all people of different genders, age, and ethnicities; and if anyone gets too aggressive, please ask them to chill out, because many people won’t feel comfortable or safe to participate if they see them going crazy – and then it won’t be a connecting event as it’s no longer open and welcoming to everyone.
Find an open space beside a path lots of people walk on so you can invite many people to join in without blocking a public path. Make sure that there is space for a soft, fluffy battle to expand into as numbers grow – a busy park in the center of a city works well.
Bring a sign saying “Join Us!”
Everyone will be having so much fun with each other that you will have to encourage/remind people to invite passers-by to join in…especially with big groups. I usually give them points we all put up a few pence for the winner to buy a drink after the event.
Cheap pillows rip quickly and can scratch faces so pillow cases are helpful!
Feather pillows upset animal rights activists. Apparently, the feathers are inhumanely collected from birds.
There will always be a few people who will turn up without a pillow, so make sure to remind everyone to bring two. Perhaps you and some friends could find a few extra ones to make the event work as well as possible!
At the end of the event, ask to collect any unwanted pillows and take them home ready for the next pillow fight (I have over 100 that are in my house and van wrapped up in a big sheet of fabric. They make excellent massive bean bag/cushions!)
Lots of passers-by ask why we are doing what we are doing, and often if it’s a religious thing. I tell them we are just trying to bring people closer together and spread smiles! Please help bring more people in to our movement for local connection by telling them about focallocal.org and sharing our Focallocal accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
Please write, or ask people who came to write an article to share their experience with the rest of our community, and inspire others to make a Pillow Fight 4 Connection where they live!
Study shows that social support and feeling connected with people in the community can help people maintain a healthy body mass index, control blood sugars, improve cancer survival, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms, mitigate posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and improve overall mental health. This is why it is important to have fun and connect with other people as we go through life!
Legal Stuff (how it worked out for us)
So long as your event is not blocking people, walking on a public path or on private property, it shouldn’t be breaking any laws. I’ve had plenty of discussions with police and park wardens who often ask us to stop, but in most countries there exists no law against people coming together for a positive activity that benefits their community.
In almost 2 years of doing this, none of our events have been stopped. A good line I use when I get approached is that “If it’s ok to bring a ball or frisbee and ask people to join us and play, why can’t we bring our pillows?”. I also would always say that it is a “gathering” of local people doing something fun for a good cause, rather than an “event”.