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International Women's Day: One girl, one bicycle and 1,001 stories of climate change

Salma Rehman | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:26 IST

If you live in the southern hemisphere, chances are that you might have encountered this girl. She rides a green touring bike covered with stickers and a yellow flag.

She is Devi Lockwood, a 23-year-old American who has been travelling for over year with an audio recorder. Her passion? To collect climate change stories from across the globe. So far, Lockwood has measured Fiji, Australia, Tuvalu and New Zealand collecting stories on water, wildlife, and weather, as told by local people.

Devi Lockwood/Facebook

Flashing cardboards which say "tell me a story about water" and "tell me a story about climate change", Lockwood has so far been able to record 450 accounts out of 1,001 she has planned.

Why this specific number? Well, it comes out of Lockwood's love for Arabian nights. "There's something very magical and special about the number 1,001," she told the Mashable in her interview.

Early inspiration

In one of her blogs written for the Guardian, Lockwood mentioned the reason for taking the trip. The inspiration was a shorter solo trip which she took down the Mississippi River in 2013. Lockwood had then covered around 800 miles till the Gulf of Mexico only to return with 50 hours of recording.

Devi Lockwood/Facebook

"The farther down I got on the Mississippi River on that journey, the more stories people were telling me. About water, climate change, the changing coast line, and more intense storms that lead to the land being worn away," said Lockwood.

This was when she realised that every community has its own story to tell.

The love for her ride

Devi Lockwood/ Facebook

"I use my bicycle as a tool for human connection - a way of meeting people and listening to their stories," wrote Lockwood in her blog.

She says that her idea is to cycle slow and increase her human interactions rather than the number of miles.

Devi Lockwood/ facebook

"My goal is to listen," says Lockwood.

A journey to remember

The ride though adventurous was not to easy for Lockwood. Starting in 2014, Lockwood erased the option of flying to reduce carbon footprints. Instead, she caught a cargo ship from New Zealand to Australia. Her poems and postcards helped with funding, initially. She had to crowdsource funds for the return journey.

Devi Lockwood/Facebook

She managed her stay with couch surfing and sometimes camping."There's pretty good camaraderie on the road," she said. "There's so much unexpected beauty, and I think that's what keeps me doing it."

And the stories

Lockwood met a woman in Queensland who was part of the team which used to capture crocodiles which ventured into people's houses. "Her conjecture was that because of climate change, wildlife is moving to different parts of the country," said Lockwood.

Devi Lockwood/Facebook

A farmer in the New South Wales complained of the uneven weather which has been affecting his farming, a profession his family has been practicing for generations.

Devi Lockwood/ Facebook

An interesting account was of a man from New Zealand who spent his life fracking and later, moved far from his place out of the fear that he'd be ostracised for it.

According to Lockwood, the man agreed to share his story with her out of trust. "I'm not trying to preach or change people's minds. I'm just documenting, recording and writing about the experience." she says.

Devi Lockwood/ Facebook

Lockwood plans to make a digital map out of her travel and audio recordings so that she can share it with the world.

For now, there is no stopping for her. It is her bike, her stories, her dream.

Devi Lockwood/Facebook

Photos: Devi Lockwood/ Facebook

First published: 18 January 2016, 6:53 IST