Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

October 9, 2019 by  
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Rob Greenfield is a self-described “adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian and dude making a difference.” Since this Wisconsin native had an eco-epiphany at the age of 24, he’s dedicated himself to spreading a positive environmental message by accomplishing heroic, sustainable deeds. These include things like riding across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle, diving into more than 2,000 dumpsters and traveling internationally with no money. Inhabitat caught up with this pro-humanity, anti-materialism activist to find out about his current foraging project. His answers have been edited for space. Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about your life right now — where you live and what you do in a typical day. Greenfield: I currently live in Orlando, Florida. I’m spending two years there. My current project is to grow and forage 100 percent of my food for a year. So, no grocery stores, no restaurants. Not even a drink at a bar or going over to a friend’s potluck to eat food from there. Literally growing and foraging everything for an entire year. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food It’s an extremely immersive project, where I’m diving deep into food and really understanding my connection to it. Largely removing myself from the globalized, industrialized food to explore the alternatives, ways of producing food that work with the environment instead of against it and showing those alternatives to people. My day-to-day right now is very food-oriented. Inhabitat: What are your regular daily activities right now? Greenfield: Well, it does vary a lot. Like today, for example, is a work day, so I’m on the computer and on the phone for much of the day. But I had mostly run out of food, so I had to delay my last call to go for a mile-and-a-half bike ride to go to an apple tree that I know about to go pick a bunch of apples. [Note: Greenfield was in Wisconsin visiting family and friends when we talked — hence the apple tree.] So my life is very much revolving around food this year. But with that being said, I still manage to do a lot of other things, and of course have a social life, and still of course talk and spread the message, because that’s the purpose. Some days are just morning to night going out and gathering food and then processing it, whether it’s fishing or going out and picking fruit and making applesauce and pear sauce, for example, or canning . Other days, when I’ve done really well, I’ve prepared lots of food, I get to be a little more leisurely, and do other work or just spend time with friends. Inhabitat: When did you start your foraging project, and when will it end? Greenfield: I started on November 11, 2018, so today is day 320, which means I have just 45 days left of the year [at the time of the interview]. So it is winding down. I’m in the home stretch, which is feeling great. I wouldn’t say I can let my guard down; I’ve still got to stay on top of things. But I could see a bar of chocolate in the near future. Inhabitat: Is dumpster diving allowed? Greenfield: No dumpster diving at all, because what I’m exploring for this year is living outside of the globalized, industrialized food system. Seeing if I can work with nature , work with the earth to produce my food. So dumpster diving, I’ve proved through my other projects in the past that I can live purely off the waste of our society, and really use that as a way to raise awareness about waste. This is taking it to another step. Now I can show that it’s possible in 2019 for us to actually grow and produce our food and improve our communities at the same time, and take power back from the big food corporations and put that power back into the hands of us, the everyday people. Inhabitat: So, what are some of the things you forage? Greenfield: So far this year, I’ve grown and foraged over 250 different species. I’ve probably foraged 30 or 40 different species of greens. Fruits . There’s many species of cherry: pin cherry, black cherry, sand cherry, just to name a few. Apples, pears, plums. Then, there’s all sorts of new plants that I’m learning. Aronia is a berry that I’ve been foraging over the last couple weeks in Wisconsin. In Florida, one of my favorite things to forage is wild yams. That is an invasive species , so it’s actually beneficial for me to harvest it, which is always nice to be harvesting in a way that actually improves the environment. The biggest one I’ve harvested so far weighed 157 pounds. I had a wheelbarrow and I wheelbarrowed it out chunks at a time to the car to bring it back to my place. Related: An explanation on wild yams I mostly chopped it up into cubes, like you cube up potatoes. Then I froze a lot of it. I make flour from it. I dehydrate it, and then blend the dehydrated chunks to make a powder, and that powder’s a yam flour. Then, I make bread with it. It’s actually a really nice bread. Well, it’s really nice for me. It’s not like a wheat bread or something like that that you’d buy at the store. But I make muffins and tortillas and things like that, and I make sourdough bread. It makes some pretty nice stuff. This project has really taught me to do a lot of things from scratch. Because if I want something, I have to figure out how to grow it or forage it and turn it into that thing that I’m wanting. It’s the opposite of that globalized food system, where we can get anything we want without really having to think about it. Inhabitat: What’s your living situation in Florida? Greenfield: Well in Orlando, I live in a 100-square-foot tiny house that I built out of about 99 percent secondhand materials with the help of a bunch of friends. I have an outdoor kitchen set up, a compost toilet, rainwater shower. I do have electricity there to run my food processor and dehydrator and things like that. But it’s a largely close-looped system, demonstrating how you can live in a more sustainable manner. Inhabitat: Do you have advice for anyone who wants to dumpster dive? Greenfield: Well, it’s pretty easy. You look at the front door. You walk past that, you walk around to the back, you look in the dumpster and you get your food from there instead. It really is not hard or complicated. The main thing is you just have to do it. You have to go to the dumpster and you have to look for the food. Then, what you do is you practice common sense. You should practice common sense wherever you’re getting your food from. So with dumpster diving, a lot of people have these preconceived notions about what’s in a dumpster and what it looks like. At a grocery store, it’s mostly food and is emptied fairly frequently. They’re actually a lot cleaner than people would expect. You just take out the good food. An easy way to start is, for example, bananas have a wrapper on them already. Oranges, also. Whereas strawberries and raspberries, they’re more delicate and more likely to get something spilled on them. But a banana, you can take the peel right off. There’s also packaged, processed food. If you get a bag of potato chips, that is still sealed, or even crackers where there’s a box on the outside and then there’s the crackers inside a plastic bag inside the box. You can start there, with those easy things. One note with dumpster diving is just to make sure that you always leave the place cleaner than you found it, and you’re courteous to everybody that you come across. [Greenfield reiterated that dumpster diving is not a part of his current project.] Inhabitat: Do you have any tips for others to live more sustainably? Greenfield: The good news is you don’t have to do these sort of huge projects that I do by any means. It’s all stuff we can adapt into our daily lives. A big one is to go local. Support local business. Try to get as many of your products produced locally rather than things from big corporate stores and stuff that’s shipped around the world, where you don’t know the people and the impact that it has had or the conditions that they are working in. Shop at the local farmer’s market and support local farmers. Eat more unprocessed foods. You can bring your own container and fill up at the bulk food section. Riding a bike more and driving a car less is a really great way to not only save a lot of money and reduce your impact, but also get good exercise. Most people are a lot happier on a bike than they are driving a car. Bikes make people smile. Related: 7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths Eat your food. The average person wastes about 20 percent of all the food they purchase. Anything that can’t be eaten can be composted. There are hundreds of great changes that we can make. But those are some that are at the top of my list that generally make you happier, healthier and help you live in a way that’s more sustainable. Inhabitat: How can Inhabitat followers get involved with your work? Greenfield: Get involved in other things like community projects, such as the Community Fruit Trees project. That is a project where you can plant fruit trees that are publicly accessible to anyone in their community. Gardens for the People , which is where we build gardens for people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it or build one on their own. The Free Seed Project is where we send out free seeds to help people start their own organic, healthy gardens. The mission is to get people living happier, healthier and more sustainable lives . We think food is a great place to start. These are all ways people can get involved, and they’d find information about those projects on my website. + Rob Greenfield Images via Rob Greenfield and Sierra Ford

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Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

Kengo Kuma weaves bamboo and carbon fiber into a nest-like structure at the V&A Museum

October 2, 2019 by  
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At the 2019 London Design Festival, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has crafted a new eye-catching outdoor installation in the John Madejski Garden at the V&A Museum — just one year after his completion of the V&A Dundee museum in Scotland. Dubbed Bamboo (?) Ring, or ‘Take-wa ??’, the temporary doughnut-shaped structure is woven from rings of bamboo and carbon fiber. The sculpture was developed in partnership with Chinese consumer electronics brand OPPO. Best known for his design of the New National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, architect Kengo Kuma has won international acclaim for his contemporary projects that draw inspiration from traditional Japanese design and emphasize natural materials . A recurring theme in his work is the expression of lightness and transparency, qualities that have also guided the design of the Bamboo (?) Ring.  Curated by Clare Farrow, the cocoon-like structure is based on a 2-meter diameter ring made from strips of the bamboo Phyllostachys edulis reinforced with carbon fiber used to laminate each ring. “For Kuma, working with Ejiri Structural Engineers and the Kengo Kuma Laboratory at The University of Tokyo, the installation is an exploration of pliancy, precision, lightness and strength: by pulling two ends, it naturally de-forms and half of the woven structure is lifted into the air,” reads the London Design Festival 2019 press release. “Bamboo (?) Ring, or ‘Take-wa ??’, is intended to be a catalyst for weaving people and place.” Related: Kengo Kuma unveils bold timber museum in Turkey that pays homage to the region’s Ottoman heritage Kuma’s installation was on display at 35 Baker Street for the duration of the London Design Festival , from September 14 to September 22, 2019. The project was developed in partnership with Chinese electronics brand OPPO, which recently built an OPPO design center in London during its new smartphone series launch. The experience center’s temporary installation, called “Essence of Discovery,” blended technology and art to introduce their smartphone products during the festival. + Kengo Kuma Images via Sassy Films

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Kengo Kuma weaves bamboo and carbon fiber into a nest-like structure at the V&A Museum

Climate Week 2019: Huge commitments, big money and collaboration

September 30, 2019 by  
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Now it’s time to put in the work.

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Climate Week 2019: Huge commitments, big money and collaboration

G7 summit: Fashion companies make a pact to protect the planet

August 26, 2019 by  
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Known as The Fashion Pact, a group of 32 major luxury brands, labels and companies, such as Adidas, Burberry, Kering, Hermes, Nike, Prada and Puma, shared its ideas to improve sustainability in the fashion industry at the G7 summit from August 24 to 26. While addressing French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, some of the pact’s members said they would focus on using other options in their work in order to protect forests and minimize plastic usage. Related: Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025 At the summit, Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti said, “We know that one company cannot solve the environmental challenges facing our planet alone, and we believe in the power of collaboration to drive real change.” Some of the pact’s ideas include pledging to 100 percent renewable energy for operations by 2030; removing microfiber pollution; boosting biodiversity and creating eco-friendly agricultural, mining and forestry processes; and cutting back on single-use plastics in packaging by 2030. The fashion industry initiative came to fruition in early 2019, when Macron asked François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering Group, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, to form a coalition that discusses how the industry’s current practices impact the environment . Pinault talked about his ideas for the coalition at the Copenhagen fashion summit in May, according to The Guardian . “This has nothing to do with competition,” he told delegates at the time. “It’s a matter of leadership. Alone it is useless, you have to work with your peers. We might not succeed, but we will achieve more than not doing anything.” Several key fashion companies have been criticized for not addressing recent wildfires in the Amazon rainforest , despite donating millions of euros toward the restoration of the Notre Dame. Macron described the situation in the Amazon as an international crisis on Friday and said he wanted it to be addressed as a key issue at the 45th G7 summit. Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Tokatlian

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G7 summit: Fashion companies make a pact to protect the planet

Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day

July 31, 2019 by  
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Ethiopia broke the world’s tree-planting record by planting more than 350 million trees in just one day. The effort is part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Green Legacy Initiative, which aims to address climate change and deforestation. The goal of the program is to plant more than four billion indigenous trees throughout the country. It has already reportedly planted three billion, and last week’s efforts made significant progress toward meeting the target. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change Some government offices were shut down for the day to allow staff to participate in the planting efforts. Representatives from the United Nations, African Union and foreign embassies also came out to support the event. “We’re halfway to our goal,” the prime minister announced midway through the planting day, and he encouraged Ethiopians to continue the work in the remaining time. He later announced on Twitter they had not only met the “collective #GreenLegacy goal” but exceeded it. The prime minister is hopeful that he can reach his final target if every citizen plants 40 seedlings. The government is running educational videos about planting and maintaining trees to encourage citizens to join in. The biggest concern for young seedlings is grazing by goats and other livestock that would destroy the trees before they have a chance to grow. Ethiopia’s forest cover is alarmingly low and plummeted over the last few decades. At the start of the 20th century, the country had approximately 35 percent forest cover, but that number dropped to just 4 percent in 2000. Over 80 percent of Ethiopians rely on agriculture or forest products for their income. “I think we demonstrated the capacity for people to come together collectively and deliver on a shared vision,” said Billene Seyoum, Ahmed’s press secretary. The previous record for tree planting was held by India, where 66 million trees were planted in one day in 2017. Via CNN and Climate Change News Image via Pixabay

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Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day

Solar-powered Jao Camp offers eco-minded luxury in Botswanas Okavango Delta

July 31, 2019 by  
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After nearly nine months of renovations, African luxury and sustainable safari operator Wilderness Safaris has reopened Jao Camp in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Powered entirely by solar energy, the eco-tourism destination features five spacious tented suites, a new spa and circular treatment rooms, a new Center of Knowledge museum and gallery and two new exclusive villas with a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler. All parts of the camp embrace the outdoors and landscape, from the use of local handcrafted materials to the framed views of the riverine forests and vast floodplains. Surrounded by prolific wildlife, the Jao Camp features a main area elevated into the tree canopy. “Underpinning it all is our commitment to the pristine environment around Jao, minimizing our footprint and allowing our guests to experience the Delta in its fullest sense,” the Wilderness Safaris’ website reads. “Innovative insulation ensures comfort, while gauze and glass panels let natural light and the outside in. The suites and villas are cooled with a silent evaporative cooler at a fraction of energy used by conventional air conditioning.” Related: Solar-powered safari lodge is a gorgeous green retreat in Botswana Jao Camp is also 100 percent solar -powered and draws energy from a new power plant that works on one of the world’s biggest Victron inverter systems and the largest lithium-ion battery bank in southern Africa. During the colder months, the suites are warmed by innovative, self-igniting Calore fireplaces fueled with pellets made from sawdust, a byproduct of working natural wood, without any additives or caking agents. All of Jao Camp’s contemporary luxury suites come with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, en suite bathrooms and outdoor and indoor showers. The nature-inspired color palette and use of handcrafted natural materials, such as rosewood-clad ceilings and floors, help tie the interiors to the outdoors and keep the focus on the Okavango Delta . Moreover, the newly added Center of Knowledge museum and gallery shares information about the area, its history and its denizens. + Jao Camp Images via Wilderness Safaris

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Solar-powered Jao Camp offers eco-minded luxury in Botswanas Okavango Delta

Climate anxiety: Is hopelessness preventing us from confronting our biggest challenge?

July 24, 2019 by  
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Every day, news reporters circulate the latest climate studies that seem to prove the world is ending. The reports appear to be working — if the goal of environmental journalists is to inform people of our existential crisis and create panic. Amidst the current fervor of political discontent, scores of people hit the streets for climate protests and evidence suggests that the marches are working — again, to inform and worry people. Since the release of a U.N. report claiming we have just 12 years to address climate change before it’s too late, hundreds of people have showed up in therapists’ offices with palpable symptoms of what practitioners are now calling “eco-anxiety” or “climate anxiety.” What is eco-anxiety? The term eco-anxiety entered the lexicon after Psychology Today described the phenomena as “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis.” In 2017, a report by the American Psychological Society went viral and described the term as a “chronic fear of environmental doom.” Climate or eco-anxiety are new terms and no licensed doctor will explicitly diagnose you with it, but it is increasingly discussed with patients, especially among younger patients. As a result, the American Psychological Association published a lengthy manual about climate change to help practitioners guide patients through their anxiety surrounding the climate crisis. Anxiety doesn’t discriminate Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness in the face of environmental threats around the world and at your doorstep are not specific to any one kind of person. It is not, though it may seem, only for those with enough time to read all the doomsday news, nor only for those who can afford therapists and college counselors. Those directly impacted by climate-related disasters, which are happening every week , experience “profound negative impacts” on their mental health. Disaster survivors have increased risk of depression, anxiety, anger issues, grief, post-traumatic stress disorders and even suicide. Related: Climate change will push 120 million into poverty Young people are panicking Youth in particular are stressed out about climate change, so much so that students in more than 70 countries across the world walked out of their classrooms and participated in Youth Climate Marches . Bombarded with messages about climate catastrophes for the entirety of their short lives, the youngest generation has only experienced a world where global warming is a known fact, yet adults don’t seem to be taking it seriously. Young people overwhelmingly feel despair that they will be left with a dysfunctional world, inherited from careless generations before them. This year, Harvard reported that 46 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 24 believe climate change is a crisis that requires urgent action, and this conviction is simply not mirrored by those in power. This discrepancy leads young people to feel hopeless and powerless in the face of such a large and impending catastrophe. The American Psychological Association reported that 58 percent of people born after 1995 feel stressed when they see news coverage about climate change. Is anxiety useful, though? How much is climate anxiety is “normal” or at least inevitable? After all, shouldn’t we be enraged by injustice? Shouldn’t we be sickened by the declining health of the planet? Aren’t these visceral reactions part of the process and a catalyst for change? The answer, experts say, depends on how debilitating the emotions are. The difference is between letting your anxiety prevent you from taking action or even living your daily life versus using it to fuel personal and political changes . Doctor’s orders: how to use your climate anxiety for good Below are a few tips for finding meaning, hope and progress despite what might seem like an overwhelming and unsolvable crisis. Start with yourself Even when you feel powerless, you still have the authority to make your own choices and adjust your personal behaviors. Audit your own energy and consumption patterns, and make small changes that help you feel more in control and more sustainable. Consider following a vegan diet , biking to work, refusing single-use plastics or selecting more sustainable shipping options when shopping online. Related: The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping “Firstly, make climate change a factor in the decisions you make around what you eat, how you travel and what you buy,” said Duncan Greere , editor of the American Psychological Society report on eco-anxiety. “Secondly, talk about climate change with your friends, family and colleagues. Finally, demand that politicians and companies make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing for the climate.” Join a climate action group There are environmental and climate action groups everywhere. Research those in your areas and attend a meeting. Not only will you find solace among others who are similarly concerned, but together you can take small steps that contribute to a larger push toward sustainability. Not all groups are on the front lines protesting; there is diversity in the work that needs to be done, including contacting your representatives, planting trees , organizing beach clean-ups, advocating for plastic bans and much more. Participate in a clean-up activity Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, but there is something you can do about it now. Seeing the change you’ve made by way of a hefty trash pile properly sorted, recycled and sent to the right place can help calm your anxiety, even if just temporarily. Beach and river clean-ups are often organized by neighborhood and community groups or nature conservation groups and can be fun social activities that encourage people to get outside. Focus on local policy If you are feeling hopeless because the national government isn’t doing enough — and sometimes is doing more harm — focus on making changes at the state or local level. Oftentimes, home-grown legislators are better able to understand the local environment and can make more effective policies. For example, while the Green New Deal proposal was causing a ruckus at the national level, New York City passed its own Green New Deal. City and state governments have a better idea about specifically what ecosystems need to be protected, which infrastructure needs to become more resilient and how to pass plastic foam bans without hurting local businesses. Stay informed about solutions It’s great to stay informed and up-to-date with the news, but learn to step away from your computer, TV or newspaper when you start to feel overwhelmed or depressed. Seek out sources that provide positive news about people working toward solutions. See a therapist If your anxiety or depression is disrupting your life and mental health , don’t hesitate to seek out professional help. No, climate-anxiety cannot be diagnosed, but it manifests similarly as general anxiety, and therapists are well-equipped with tools to help you cope and overcome. Via The Washington Post Images via Pixabay , Jonathan Kemper , Jaymantri and Rika C

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Climate anxiety: Is hopelessness preventing us from confronting our biggest challenge?

Endangered rhino population up 1000% in Tanzania following poaching crackdown

July 15, 2019 by  
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The president of Tanzania reported that since his election, the population of endangered rhinos has increased by 1000 percent. Following years of out-of-control poaching, President John Magufuli fulfilled his promise to crack down on wildlife trafficking and went so far as to use his own government security task force to arrest poachers. The president’s office stated that in 2015, there were only 15 surviving rhinos left in the country. Within the first year as head of state, Magufuli had arrested major Chinese smugglers and sentenced them to 15 to 20 years in prison each. According to government reports, the arrests set a strong example to poaching gangs that regardless of status within the Chinese elite class, Magufuli meant business. Related: Ivory Queen sentenced to 15 years for illegal ivory smuggling In addition to cracking down on poachers , the government has supported a park ranger program to collar and track elephants, which enables them to monitor and protect the species better. Four years later, the current rhino population is estimated to be about 167. Similarly, the elephant population is estimated to have risen 50 percent due to legal efforts against endangered wildlife crimes. “As a result of the work of a special taskforce launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 to 60,000 presently,” an official from the Tanzanian government said. Foreign conservationists are skeptical about the president’s claims, arguing that the majority of rhino newcomers are imported and the increase is not thanks to effective breeding or protection measures. CITES also shows that Tanzania had 133 rhinos four years ago, not 15 as the government has stated. “This sounds like very good news, but we should view these figures with caution until there’s verification — there’s no way that has occurred through breeding and protection alone,” said Mark Jones, the policy lead at Born Free Foundation, a wildlife charity . According to environmentalists, the breeding and gestation period is too long for the population to have grown through natural biological processes in just four years. “They mature late, have long gestation periods and don’t produce many young,” Jones said. “Both species take a long time biologically to reproduce.” Via The Independent Image via René Mayorga

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Endangered rhino population up 1000% in Tanzania following poaching crackdown

How to cultivate employee fulfillment on your team

July 10, 2019 by  
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Driving more organization-wide support for sustainability starts with building self-awareness about your team’s purpose and the impact of the work they do.

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How to cultivate employee fulfillment on your team

How to cultivate employee fulfillment on your team

July 10, 2019 by  
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Driving more organization-wide support for sustainability starts with building self-awareness about your team’s purpose and the impact of the work they do.

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How to cultivate employee fulfillment on your team

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