In the final afternoon of the Conscious Life Workshop in August 2014, I gave the group of 125 attendees a special challenge — to come up with a co-creative project that would provide value to others and that we could all do together in about 90 minutes.
I played facilitator and referee during this time, but the group was responsible for coming up with their own idea and then implementing it. After about 30 minutes of brainstorming and many rounds of voting, they settled on doing a massive hugfest on Fremont Street in Downtown Vegas, which was within easy walking distance from our workshop room at the Golden Nugget. The idea was to film it with our cell phone cameras, and then to edit and share it as a short video to spread some positive ripples with the world.
Once we settled on the idea, people quickly got to work making signs, and within minutes we walked down to Fremont Street and starting sharing hugs with each other and the tourists. It began a little tentatively at first, and as people warmed up, the group energy gradually became more fun — and boisterous. Some of the attendees told me afterwards that it was a very memorable, heart-opening, and beautiful experience for them.
The total time from when we began brainstorming ideas to when we were back in the room after doing the hugfest was only about 75 minutes. That included those 30 minutes of brainstorming, so this whole thing came together very quickly. That’s the beauty of creating with an open heart. When we got back to the room, we spent some time figuring out various other logistical details, such as how to get the video editing done and what to call the project. Eventually we settled on the name Project Hugfest.
Special thanks to Cynthia Lou for creating the Project Hugfest logo… and of course thanks to everyone who participated in making this project such a fun success.
Here’s the video. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share or post it wherever you like, such as on your own website or social media pages.
Why did it take me so long to post this? That’s entirely my fault. I had closed all my social media accounts, including YouTube, in July 2014, a month before the workshop. Once the video was done and edited, anyone from the workshop was free to share and post it however they wanted. I had agreed at the workshop to also create a new YouTube account just to post the video, but when I tried to do that, I found that Google still required me to have an associated Google+ page (which I really didn’t want). When I tried to make a new account, it would automatically recreate my old Google+ page, which then reactivated my previous YouTube channel. I didn’t see a way to make it work with a new account, so I put it on the back burner for a while.
Eventually I gave up and decided to just to re-enable those accounts, so I could finally post this video. Streaming it from my own website just isn’t fast enough for people outside the USA.
I turned off advertising for the video since the intention wasn’t to generate income. The intention was to create something of value and to share it freely with the world.
I’d like to personally dedicate this video (if I may take that liberty) to Daan Buckinx, a young 20-something Belgian who attended some of my workshops in 2009 and 2010. Before Daan passed away from terminal cancer in 2011, he inspired many people, including me, to openly share hugs and affection while we can. The last time I saw Daan, we were walking around downtown Las Vegas, very near to where this video was filmed, and he was giving beautiful heart-centered hugs to the tourists in the area, brightening their day and making them smile… even though he wasn’t feeling his best due to the cancer treatments he was receiving.
I hope Project Hugfest will inspire you to openly share more hugs and affection with the people in your life.