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!
How to Guide
If you can gather a small (or big) pile of spare pillows, it becomes really, really easy to get tens or hundreds of people to join in over a few hours. Ask everyone coming to bring at least two pillows.
Bring a sign saying “Join Us!”
Find an open space beside a path lots of people walk on so you can invite many people to join in but without blocking the path. Make sure that there is space for a soft, fluffy battle to expand into as numbers grow – a busy park in the centre of a city works very well.
Stand next to a place where a lot of people are walking passed and offer a pillow to everyone you see. If they smile at the idea, it’s a sign that they like the idea, but many people are hesitant to step out of their comfort zones. I give them a nudge past this by throwing them a pillow to catch!
Once it’s in their hands, very, very few people are going to give that pillow back to you. Almost everyone who smiled cannot resist swinging that pillow at you, or someone else in their group. In no time they’ll be laughing and having a great time with people in their community they never met before.
What a wonderful outcome in a time when adults are so often afraid of talking or communicating with people they don’t know, let alone playing with them like they were kids again. Pillow could be called ‘the great equaliser’ as we’re all still children at heart if you peel enough layers off.
You can grab cheap pillows for 1 or 2 £ / € / $ / etc, especially if you buy a pack of four. The easiest way to get a pile of pillows is to invite a few friends, post in local social media groups, and tell everyone to bring two pillows
Everyone needs to have at least two pillows so they can invite someone walking past to join in.
This is important! Tell everyone not to bring feather pillows! (unless they know exactly where those feathers came from). If you want to ruin your day google how feathers for feather pillows are usually collected… i’ll give you a hint, its not very nice.
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 some of the most fun ones I’ve run start out with just a small group of friends and extra pillows. Big groups are often 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 others in our local community, and to be honest that aspect doubles the fun.
Going Large or Going Solo
On our Road Trips I regularly go alone and set out a pile of 40 pillows next to a busy place, then i stand with two in my hands and offer one to people passing by. Its great way to meet people and make friends if you’re travelling or new to an area. Once a few brave folk join in you’ll find yourself in the middle of the most fun day imaginable, and a few people will probably want to stick around for a beer after or meet you for a coffee the next day. 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 really want to go large check out International Pillow Fight Day
Inclusion: To succeed in bringing your community closer together, everyone has to feel welcome to join in so offer pillows to all people of different genders, age, and ethnicities. Just because they don’t look like a pillow fighter on the outside doesn’t mean they haven’t been waiting for this opportunity to arise for the past 10, 30, 50 years. Often elderly people will be flattered that you asked.
If anyone gets too aggressive, please ask them to chill out a bit. On the one hand it is a pillow fight and people will get hit in the face with a pillow. On the other everyone should feel feel comfortable and safe to participate at their own level. You can try having an easy-going area, and telling people not to hit anyone not holding a pillow so people can take breaks.
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!
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!)
Please write, or ask people who came to write an article to share their experiences, photos and videos with the rest of us here.
Legal Stuff (how its worked out for us)
If you ask councils for permission you should expect it’ll take months and months, and they’ll probably want you to pay them a lot of money, and have liability insurance, so let me ask you a question; “If you were bringing your football or frisbee and asking people to join in and play, would you need to ask the council for permission and pay them money?
No you wouldn’t, and bringing your pillows to play with is no different from bringing you balls to play with.
If the police or park wardens have a problem tell them it is a “gathering” of local people doing something fun together. Do not say that its an “event”. That’s a legal term they will be looking for requiring permits, insurance, etc.
So long as your activity 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, or coming together to play a sport together.
Science Supporting the Positive Impact:
Studies 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 post traumatic 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!
Health benefits of positive emotions: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281347286_The_evidence_supporting_the_benefits_of_positive_emotions
Using the Power of Social Interactions and the Deep Desire for Connectedness to Empower Health and Wellness:
The Connection Prescription: Using the Power of Social Interactions and the Deep Desire for Connectedness to Empower Health and Wellness - PMC
Strengthening community bonds and shared identity through community events:
How regular play enhances our ability to cope with stress: