By Andrea D. Chavez-Kopp
If you live in or visit any major city, you will find the new phenomenon of motorized scooters zipping along the streets. Walking the sidewalks, you may see people zooming by, off to run an errand, get to a meeting or catch up with friends. Typically it will be young people riding these scooters. Most curious to me, once the errand is run or the friend met, the scooter will be left wherever the heck the driver wants. This leaves the office park where I work or other metropolitan areas looking like a messy, disorganized playground.
As a mother, it makes me crazy to walk by and see these things tossed aside when the user is finished. The scooters are proliferating, however, so they must be serving a need that established modes of transportation are not. One of the unique aspects of these scooters is that they are undocked. (Even something as transient as bike share rentals are linked to a particular location.) You just use the app to find the nearest one, then hop on and go.
One day as I passed a group of these scooters on the sidewalk, the concept of being undocked made me think about the young people whose stories we hear in the qualitative research study Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation of Young Catholics (Saint Mary’s Press, 2017), and how many young people are “undocked” to a particular church or faith practice. At a time when we are struggling to attract and retain young people into the church, what can this trend of undocked scooters teach us about the needs and wants of those who consume them? I think the undocked scooter model offers some real benefits that the church may want to consider.
More questions are posed here than answers. I welcome responses, challenges, other questions and observations.
In the meantime, I will keep trying not to trip over the undocked scooters on the sidewalk, and I will keep looking for inspiration in unexpected places.
Andrea D. Chavez-Kopp serves as the Assistant Director for Educational and Formation Programs for the National Catholic Educational Association. She is also a consultant, freelance writer, and thought leader in the area of educational technology. Connect with her on Twitter @adkopp76.