GoViral 2018 – Almaty, Kazakhstan

GoViral was a whirlwind: a three-day festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan (June 15-18, 2018) focused on innovation of all stripes.

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listening is my jam

This is only the second year that the festival has been up and running, and I was floored by what the US Consulate General in Kazakhstan has been able to pull off. It was an honor to be a part of that magic––not just the official events, but all the side conversations that happened as a result of lots of people with ideas and passions gathering together.

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door to the US Maker Space in Almaty

I gave a talk in the opening ceremony about poetry, and the unraveling of my 4-year journey so far (video here).

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ye olde opening slide, complete with cardboard aesthetic (am I predictable? yes)

In preparing for the keynote I realized that I don’t know if I’m still a poet. Poetry is the place I come from, the soil I grew up in, but not necessarily where I’m going.

As I do this project for longer––going on 4 years this September (if you count the beginning as the NYC People’s Climate March), or 5 years come August (if you count the beginning as my bicycle journey down the Mississippi River)––I find myself transitioning out of poems and into multimedia forms that let each storyteller speak in their own voice, rather than having my words reinterpret theirs.

Audio / image / creative nonfiction: the 1,001 Stories project continues to take on a shape and form of its own.

Poetry will always be a homeland I return to. For now: here’s to movement & play.

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fun fact: I did a whole lot of dancing backstage to calm nerves before delivering this talk

After the opening ceremony I presented on three panels alongside some superstar activists and writers from Central Asia & beyond.

Art communities and creative industries changing modern cities: with Aida Sulova, Asya Tulesova, and Anisa Sabiri. Moderated by Galina Koretskaya.

Seeing other people’s worlds: travel writing that goes deeper than the surface: with Tynan and Jeff Miller. Moderated by Anuar Nurpeisov.

How to use storytelling for social change: with Denis Bihus, Mary Mitchell, and Lara Stolman. Moderated by Madi Mambetov.

(All presentations were dubbed in Russian & will be uploaded in English in the coming weeks).

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Big thanks to my Harvard classmate Didar KM for inviting me to be a part of the festival.

(Fun fact: we took Deborah Foster‘s class “The Art of Storytelling” together freshman year, the course that made me decide to study Folklore & Mythology in the first place. Best decision I ever made).

If you haven’t already, go check out Didar’s comics: Abai Cartoons. Seriously awesome stuff.

Other things that were wonderful / that I don’t want to forget:

A) Dancing backstage with the best volunteer anyone could dream of working with (Yekaterina Kolessina!)

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caught in a rare moment of stillness (most of the time we were dancing / discussing politics)

B) climbing the big mountain that overlooks Almaty with Anuar Nurpeisov and Ben Yu. We saw a sideways rainbow, and miraculously did not fall.

and C) making a whole lot of audio recordings on water and climate change in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: 29, to be exact.

Backstory:

For ten days before the festival I journeyed to Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan alongside translator Qanat and photographer Sardar. We listened to stories about everything from cotton farming in the USSR to the Aral Sea to the legend of Issykul Lake’s formation and what it’s like being a woman who runs a bottled water business (and how a lack of infrastructure maintenance has necessitated bottled water consumption in the first place).

One of these stories, told by a storyteller who grew up in Afghanistan, ripped me open & reaffirmed my conviction that we need to create more spaces to talk about water. Water is life, and a lack of access to clean water can be deadly. More on that in the future.

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The sometimes frustrating, sometimes amazing, always a learning experience magic of translation A.K.A. linguistic triangulation. (Step one: listen. Step two: listen again) 

We translated the cardboard sign into Russian…

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there’s a spelling error hidden somewhere in here –– we fixed it later

… with materials provided by a friendly fruit seller in Balkhash:

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that’s journey photographer Sardar shaping the cardboard sign in-progress

The stories I recorded in Central Asia will be available eventually on the 1,001 stories map. Stay tuned for updates!

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Yours truly. Photo by Sardar.

This was my first time documenting stories while accompanied by three dudes (translator, photographer, driver). It changed parts of the trip, but not the whole thing.

If nothing else, it was a relief to be able to bring up Rebecca Solnit‘s book “Men Explain Things to Me” in the confined space of a bumpy van ride, and not be attacked for being a feminist. Referencing that book on a van ride from Laos to Cambodia two years ago brought about physical violence. (Again, more on that later, perchance –– that’s the subject of another thing).

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toilet block on the way to Balkhash. ladies to the left.

Lake Balkhash itself was stunning, and also a site of great ecological complexity / layered histories. Half the lake is salt, half is fresh, and the shores are filled with great people to talk to.

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@ a place where lines blur

Sardar shot material for a 20 minute film about my journey to document human stories on water and climate change, feat. music by Kazakh composer Kuat Shildebayev.

Cultural Curator Timur Nusimbekov, creator of Adamdar, edited the film, and did a whole lot of organizing backstage to make all of this come together (planning events in Balkhash, Bishkek, and Almaty). Timur, you rock.

I’ll post the link here when it goes live.

UPDATE: the film will be shown in Kazakhstan at the Almaty Indie Film Festival!

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Photo by Sardar

In the process of recording material in Balkhash, I realized how little I know about the Soviet Union, and all that has happened after.

I asked lots of questions. (Stories are doors. I like doorways).

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Also: let’s talk for a second about architecture. Soviet buildings stick around long after the USSR itself has crumbled. Balkhash city was built about 80 years ago, and the bones of the town are still strongly reminiscent of that era.

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From Balkhash we zoomed to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for an action-packed weekend. I gave two talks at Chicken Star, hands down the finest chicken/coffee/art establishment I have ever stepped inside.

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Seriously –– I love this place. Not for the chicken (although I hear that it is indeed quite good), but for the community.

If you ever find yourself in Bishkek, Chicken Star is not to be missed.

The founder, Chihoon Jeong, is the kind of person who can intuit what kind of drink you need before you even know that you need it. What a gift.

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talks on talks –– taste the joy?

Kyrgyzstan at sunset is its own kind of gorgeous.

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Like any responsible story collector, I did my best to see things from different perspectives.

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handstands are fun

In sum: it was a blur of a two weeks…

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moments before being eaten by a cloud, on the way up to Big Almaty Peak

… filled w/ beauty of a distinctly Central Asian variety:

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water is life (Almaty, KZ)

For now: the journeys continue.

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upwards & downwards & upwards again

Big thanks to the storytellers who talked to me about water / climate & the GoViral event organizers who pulled off the near-impossible feat of gathering so many fascinating people from around the world in one place.

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If you have the opportunity to attend or speak at this festival: go. You won’t regret it.

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until soon –– over & out

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Collaborations are the Best

Back in February I met Rosie Summers and some of her Leeds College of Art classmates at a Greenpeace Leeds meeting in the UK.

They asked if they could animate one of the water / climate change stories that I recorded. They chose a story from Noelline Gillies, a woman in her 80s from Omarama, New Zealand who I recorded in 2015.

Here’s a trailer of the result.

I am so, so happy with their work! Enjoy.

Poetry & Honey – upcoming event!

BOSTON-AREA FRIENDS:

On Friday Aug 19th at 7pm I’ll be reading poems at Follow The Honey (1132 Mass Ave) in Cambridge, MA. Stick around after for a wine tasting with Proud Pour!

Here’s the Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/319270138414558

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The event is free. I’m making a whole bunch of handmade poetry chapbooks that will be for sale in exchange for any donation — all funds will help me attend the UN climate talks in Morocco this November as a youth delegate with SustainUS.

More updates to come! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Here’s the full event description:

 

Poetry and honey together (and perhaps a spot of wine)?!?! OH YES.

Kick off National Honey Day events with a poetry reading by Devi Lockwood at Follow the Honey in Cambridge, MA. Stick around after for a wine tasting with Proud Pour.

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Devi Lockwood is a poet / touring cyclist / storyteller from Boston. For the last two years she has been traveling the world by bicycle and by boat to collect 1,001 stories from people she meets about water and climate change.

Her journey began with the September 21, 2014 People’s Climate March in NYC. To date she has collected over 500 stories (audio recordings) in the USA, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Qatar. She is working to create a map on a website where you can click on a point and listen to a story someone has told her from that place.

Devi’s writing has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Bicycling Magazine, Storyscape, BOAAT, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere — for a full publication list, see: devi-lockwood.com/read-listen.

Devi is currently based in New Hampshire and will attend the November 2016 COP22 UN climate talks in Morocco as a youth delegate for SustainUS.

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The reading is free. Handmade poetry chapbooks will be for sale at the event, with some old poems and some recent poems from the journey. Price is a sliding scale — whatever you can afford! Bring cash / spare change.

All funds raised will help Devi attend COP22, the UN climate talks in Morocco.

At the end of the event, Brian Thurber, the founder of Proud Pour, will be sampling his wine.

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Proud Pour pairs high-quality wines with local environmental restoration. Proud Pour’s Sauvignon Blanc restores 100 wild oysters per bottle. Delicious + sustainable.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

website: devi-lockwood.com
blog: onebikeoneyear.wordpress.com

“The Power of Slow”

Hey, world! I have an essay in the September 2016 print edition of Bicycling magazine about the power of slow cycling.

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You can read the essay online here: http://www.bicycling.com/rides/adventure/the-power-of-slow

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In listening, I give the whole of myself—my ears, my heart—to a storyteller. In cycling, I give the whole of myself—my body, my spirit—to a place. I move through the landscape and the landscape moves through me. Slowness has become part of my daily practice.

Check it out!

http://www.bicycling.com/rides/adventure/the-power-of-slow

Arohanui,

Devi

On Spirituality & Social Justice

“How can I help? What power do we have to overthrow an exploitative system? Am I enough?” 

I have a long-form article out today in Anchor Issue 05, published by Still Harbor — check it out!

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You can view the article here: http://view.publitas.com/still-harbor-anchor/anchor_issue-05/page/56 

And the whole issue here: http://stillharbor.org/anchor-magazine/#anchor-online 

Big love for the space that Anchor provides for conversations at the intersection of spirituality and social justice.

 

Making a Stamp to Replace a Business Card

Some months ago I ran out of business cards.

I loved the old design (the very talented Abby Sun helped to put it together) but it was most definitely time for something new. So…

 

I made a stamp! It’s much cheaper, lighter, and more eco friendly. Huzzah!

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This stamp a bit smaller than what I was expecting, but still lovely. My inner 3-yr-old is delighted.

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my hand for scale

I can’t claim credit for the idea — a storyteller at a farmer’s market in Dunedin suggested it to me after I gave her one of my last business cards in November.

Last week I contacted the Wellington Rubber Stamp Company with my design and ink color. It was ready within a few days. The logo design was generously done by Max O’Brien (for the new website coming soon!). The contact details are in my handwriting.

This just in time for the next stage of the big bike trip. Thailand, here I come!

🌏 ✨  🚵

 

 

In Case You Missed It

I wrote a piece for the Guardian that went live a week ago:

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Check it out: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2015/sep/21/one-bike-and-1001-stories-on-climate-change

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me up to this point, esp. to Peppe and Jeanie, who let me stay up late for three nights in their kitchen in Mackay writing this thing, and to Caitlin Kelly, who coached me through it.

I love writing in kitchens.

Balancing three time zones (east coast USA friends to help edit, editors in London, and myself here in Queensland, Australia) was no easy task but I’m happy to say that I’m alive and kickin.

Thank you.

I couldn’t do this without all your help.

More soon.

xo

d