- - 20 March 2019 -

The Human Dogpile

When I was young yesterday or maybe one hundred years ago, I was the Vice President of our high school Outdoors Club.

I took this role very seriously.

Outdoors is this really neat place young people used to go because they wanted to.   You couldn’t Google it.   You couldn’t visit it on Fortnite, you couldn’t friend it on Facebook and there was no possibility of selfie’ing it to Instagram.   You physically existed in the immediate realm of conifers and evergreens and leeches and mosquitoes – the really real present moment being your only testimony.

The Outers Club was top drawer.   Outside with your co-humans – reliance on one another to subsist gently with nature.

Cell phones weren’t a thing but what DID exist was the basic transistor radio – 100% forbidden contraband on an outers trip.   An instrument of the dark side.   Compasses, military water flasks, oatmeal.   That was allowed. Transistor radios were an absolute intrusion on nature.
We went rogue and snuck one along.

Late that night, after a day of portaging canoes and collecting firewood, we chilled in a dogpile of sleeping bags and girl teen angst, while our transistor radio belted out King of Pain by The Police.   The early morning campfire of sluggish thoughts, ashes in the porridge and preparations for our day of
physical trials with the land found us dead smack in a lecture by our leaders.   They were disappointed in our poor decision to bring technology along for the adventure.  We were feeling the sting of bringing Sting.

Now a group of women all grown up and maybe kinda sorta oldish, we live in a world of computers that can fit on a watchband.  When I was young, computers computed.  They were daunting and scary and big and lumpy and unapproachable.   We understood that computers only computed.  They calculated. They programmed.  They had binary this or that and seriously serious people to run them.  They were separate from us.  But over the course of time and technological evolution, computers gained the
supernatural ability to connect us.   And connect us they did.   Computers as small as a watch can spew out enough information to either help us or paralyze us.   Information overload.   Connection overload.

Sometimes…we need to return to the dogpile.  That pile of girls in the tent who swapped stories and mentored one another and encouraged one another to face the uncertainties of the next day.   We need connections that are real. We need to check in with the humans.

Detective Constable Lindsey Leonard of the Peterborough Police Service has reintroduced the importance of the dogpile. One of our inspiring nominees who helped to develop a brainchild symposium for women in policing – a venue for young women to explore the world of policing through the eyes and
stories of women who have traversed the path ahead of them.

Sure, any one woman can Google what it’s like to be a female police officer. You don’t have to attend a symposium of really real humans sharing really real stories.  The computer can very capably search engine your question and spit out many informative pages of data written in legible Arial font and translate it to multiple languages.

But you will miss the gentle nuances. The heart of their passion for what they do. Their eyes that glisten with tears as they recollect stories of saving lives or helping victims or assisting in times of need.
The subtle strain in their voice as they recall the tribulations of training or the exams or their first ride- along.  Computers are great.  But we need the humans.  We need gathering places.
We need symposiums and we need people like Lindsey to foster the human connection.
Sting has raised awareness of our depleting rainforests.
Lindsey has raised awareness of human interaction and mentorship.
For this symposium, we will leave the transistor radio at home.