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  • feedwordpress 20:14:36 on 2020/04/17 Permalink
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    April 17, 2020 


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    Image by Stephen Skinner

    Without access to health care or higher education and burdened by heavy college loans, people are practically caged within a system where the actualization of their potential becomes harder and harder to achieve.

    Chronic economic anxiety thus becomes a constant companion, as it was even before the pandemic for tens of millions of Americans.There, in the constriction of their opportunities, lies the constriction of the American economy.

    To speak of the economy as a separate entity that bestows its abundance on people rather than as the creativity of people sharing their abundance with the world, is the upside down thinking that makes our system so skewed and inevitably cruel.

    Even now, masters of the universe speak of re-opening the economy with almost bloodless lack of consideration for how many millions of people will be too financially devastated by then to vitally participate. the bubonic plague led to the end of serfdom; COVID-19 threatens to re-introduce it.

    If the political class does not stop underestimating the intelligence of the American people, recognizing that the barrenness of our system has now been revealed in all its heartlessness, they will be caught off guard by forces of chaos that then wash over American society like a tsunami in the wake of the pandemic.

     
  • feedwordpress 06:42:11 on 2020/04/17 Permalink
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    April 17, 2020 


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    My friend Susan sent me this picture today. She said that in the midst of all the sadness her new granddaughter was born, and her peonies began to bloom a few days before Easter. I almost cried at the reminder. Children continue to be born, people continue to love each other, and flowers continue to bloom. In the midst of the pandemic, with all its grief and horror, it seems to me there’s an undeniable awakening occurring. In the silence, in the realizations, even in the tears, there are gifts of knowledge and wisdom and depth and understanding. When this ends, whenever it ends, the sky is going to be bluer and the light is going to sparkle more and we will emerge as a more grateful and more humble people. Some will be grieving for years to come and it will be our task to comfort them. But our greatest task will be to make sure that those who died did not die in vain; that what we learned from this pandemic was to do life differently, for our country and for the world.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:36:02 on 2020/04/14 Permalink
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    Time to Choose Another Way 


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    April 14, 2020

    Since you’re at home anyway and might not have a lot to do, try this little mind exercise: spend five minutes imagining what our world would be like if Congress, the Senate and White House was made up mainly of authors, artists, teachers, healers, scientists, yogis and philosophers.

    Would things be any worse, and might they possibly even be better? How are we doin’ with the way we’re running things now? Is it possible for us to break the spell, to awaken from the delusional prejudice that a certain kind of business mentality is a better kind of leader?

    The pandemic is not a surprise to scientists, for instance, who have been warning us about this kind of thing for decades. Their words have gone largely unheeded by large portions of our political leadership. And why? Because they do not represent financial leverage – what they have to say does not increase short term corporate profits – and it is money, not wisdom, that runs Washington. (Until we get the money out of politics, such insanity will prevail). And it is not a surprise to philosophers either, who know that humanity’s recklessness and irresponsibility have paved the wicked path to this. It is a mindset that is killing us, a dense material fear-based worldview that has nothing to do with paving a sustainable, much less thriving path for humanity in the 21st-century. The origin of this virus, whatever it was, was an expression of irreverence toward people, animals or planet.

    It is time for us to choose another way. There is a veil in front of all our eyes, on the other side of which is a newborn world – one made fresh and sparkling (we’ve actually seeing images of it already) as we stop our acquiescence to the violence now perpetuated so casually upon it.

    It is time to ask ourselves, “Is that what we want?” If it is, some things are going to have to change. We must make other choices. We must choose life, and peace, and love.

    Yet there will be a lot of resistance to those choices, of that there is no reasonable doubt. Thus back to that imaginary government. For a different world, we’ll need a different kind of government. One of the people. By the people. For the people.

    What a thought…

     
  • feedwordpress 14:53:00 on 2020/04/12 Permalink
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    April 12, 2020 


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    On the night before the crucifixion, all of the disciples were gathered around Jesus. As the hour got late they began to fall asleep. He said to them, “Can you not remain awake with me in the hour with my agony?” The disciples falling asleep was not only because of the lateness of the hour; it was because of the emotional pain of that moment and their wanting to escape it by going to sleep. And that has been us for centuries. “What you do to the least of these you do to me,” he said. And yet we have done horrible things to the least of these. We were asked not to go to sleep, and yet we did. We went to sleep with all manner of distraction, self-reference, and whatever other excuses we gave ourselves. And now we have no choice but to remain awake in the hour of his agony, because the hour of his agony is now ours as well. The answer is not to escape this mystery, to turn away from it, or to even think about trying to fall asleep. It isn’t possible anymore. The answer lies not in sleeping but in waking. The world is in agony, our collective crucifixion is upon us, yet resurrection is on the horizon even now…

     
  • feedwordpress 19:04:30 on 2020/04/10 Permalink
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    Good Friday April 10, 2020 


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    Today is Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion (I know, I know, what a weird thing to call it). We acknowledge it as a way of recognizing darkness, naming its reality and bearing witness to the suffering it creates. 

    We do so however with the understanding that within the symbolic three days our suffering will end. There will be a period of grief, torment, and anguish, yes – yet that will be followed by a burst of light so extraordinary, so miraculous, that the mortal mind will bow before the supremacy of an otherworldly love. And in that moment the reign of darkness will cease, its spell having been broken by our joint realization that in the presence of God it has no power at all. Light having entered the darkness, the darkness shall be no more. The word “Hallelujah” then takes on meaning we never could have known before.

    Hallelujah. May it be so. At this, our moment of collective crucifixion, may the infinite mercy of God be upon us. May we dwell so deeply in the consciousness of Love that God Himself will close the gap and lift us high.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:50:37 on 2020/04/09 Permalink
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    We Must Never Ever Ever Let Go 


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    April 9, 2020

    There are two political universes: The first is the parties, the pundits, the money, the polls, the debates, and the media. I call it the political/media industrial complex.

    The second is the American people, the voters, those who Jefferson referred to as “the only safe repository of power.”

    In ‘20 as in’16, the first ate the second one alive. One of the most important activities on earth has been reduced to a carnival show, overseen by unscrupulous people who couldn’t care less. I hope at least some of them are using this time to think about what they’ve done again.

    It’s so imperative to question what you’re told. If someone is referred to as a serious player, ask yourself why. And if they’re referred to as a joke, ask yourself why that as well. Do your own research. Recognize that many of those people make and break careers for fun.

    There are journalists with complete absence of ethics who are high on their ability to destroy someone. They practice the “politics of personal destruction” – and not just for fun. They do it in large part to further their own careers. They walk over bodies and consider it a good day.

    Meanwhile, there are millions of people who are desperately stuck – in jobs they hate, lacking healthcare, burdened by school loans, unable to participate in the American dream, and they show up to hear politicians with a sincere belief – eroded more and more by the bullshit that has come to be known as politics in this country – that maybe someone could actually help them.

    They are people who truly care about this country. All they want is a fair shot for themselves, their children and their planet. But they’ve been turned into pawns in a corporatized game, a cruel and manipulative process by which people are made to believe that what should be thought of as a joke is serious, and what should be thought of as serious should be seen as a joke.

    And where does that get us? Look all around you. The entire process of this campaign season was a canard. And I speak from experience. I was there. I was in the belly of the beast. I saw it, I touched it, I smelled it, I felt it. And in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I tremble for my country.”

    But I’m not throwing my hands up in the air, and neither should you. This is our country. The dream of our ancestors. We must never ever ever let go.

     
  • feedwordpress 14:59:08 on 2020/04/07 Permalink
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    War Profiteering in the Age of Corona 


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    April 7, 2020

    Most Americans would think that with doctors and nurses literally begging for protective gear and ventilators, our federal stockpile is used so we can get them what they need as soon as possible.

    But those Americans would be wrong. Why? Because the stockpile – even what’s left of it – is SOLD to the states, not given to anyone. I spoke to the CEO of a major hospital yesterday and she said that the second tsunami of despair will be financial.

    Hospitals are having to spend millions and millions of dollars to get the equipment they need‬, and states are literally bidding against each other for access to the equipment. This should be seen as war profiteering. The idea that the profit motive has anything to do with any of this, while doctors and nurses – many of them with children at home – are literally risking their lives to fight this war for us, is disgusting.

    This is the downside of unfettered capitalism, its shadow, the immoral and unethical obeisance to profit motive even when it runs against every moral consideration, every ounce of conscience within the human heart.

    We are seeing revealed the unconscionable tyranny of a political system so driven by slavish devotion to corporate profits that we the people can just drop dead for all it cares. This is why I called the system sociopathic during my presidential campaign. This is inhuman. It’s monstrous. And it is up to we the people to change it.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:36:26 on 2020/04/02 Permalink
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    April 2, 2020 


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    It’s going to take a lot of forgiveness, positivity and compassion for those who do not agree with us, to make the kind of changes when all this is over that most need to be made. The drama on the other side of this is going to be huge. Much has been revealed about how American operates, and it isn’t pretty. We were completely unprepared for a virus that is essentially an attack on our people. Nor did our government function in a way that allowed us to prepare quickly. People are seeing how the current way of doing things in America protects the few at the expense of the many. This is not a reason for violent revolution. That very thought should bring a shudder to anyone. But we do need a moral revolution. In the words of John F Kennedy, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” We need a revolution in values. We need a blazing cry for justice. We need an embrace of love so great that it extends beyond the personal and heals the entire world.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:49:08 on 2016/04/11 Permalink
    Tags: , Feel, Reflections   

    Hacking Nicities 


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    Over on Quora, Deborah asked me to answer:

    What is the best substitute for "thank you," "sorry," and "welcome" to express gratitude or apologize to someone close who considers those words a mere formality?

    Which I answered briefly with:

    I am not convinced the problem is the words themselves as much as the lack of clarity of what is meant by them. I think it helps to add three details to any of the above statements: what it is, why it matters, and how it makes you feel.

    Thank you: I appreciate that you x because I value y, so now I feel z. “I appreciate that you did the dishes because I value cleanliness, so now I feel ready to start my day.”

    Sorry: I apologize (as for your forgiveness) for doing x. I know you value y and so do I. I feel terrible/out of integrity/uncomfortable… and can we discuss what I can do to make this right for us?

    Welcome: I am happy to help with x because y is important to me.

    Nicities are nice! They help make us feel nice. But very few of us learn how to do them well. We get the ‘Say please and thank you’ lecture. In about a decade of reflecting on why a thank you or apology lands or doesn’t land with me or with other people, I have refined a practice. No, I am by no means perfect at it either.

    Be specific. See, Touch, Hear it.

    I have learned though that it helps to include one or more of the parts: describe specifically what is appreciated or what the apology is for – the more the other person knows precisely what is being discussed, the better they can hear what is said. “Thank you for sharing the day with me” is not half as powerful as “thank you for buying me coffee while we discussed the current political climate and watched the clouds go by. I love sharing that kind of time with you.” Be specific and use your senses of sight, touch, and sound.

    Be nice

    Get Subjective

    The details of the objective reality – where you were, what was in the room, what would an observer say would happened, the details writers love to use, help us get into that moment.

    But they don’t tell us why it matters. There, we get into the subjective. So if you share how that relates to your values, what is important to you, or why it counts for you, that also helps to ground the expression. “I find conversations about politics with people of opposing views to be the roots of good democracy, so I value practicing that with you, even when we disagree.”

    Talk about Your Feelings

    Even more in the subjective angle of expression here is how it makes us feel. “Debating with you makes me feel wiser because I have a better handle on both sides of the argument.” Or “Discussing these issues with you helps me feel closer to you because I see why you hold that position.”

    When I have written letters of gratitude for something that happened in the past, I also include a list of things that I feel came about because of the other person. Results I attribute to their actions. So few of us know the second order effects of our interactions, yet all of us want to be a contribution. Good: “Thank you for connecting me with Sally.” Better: “Connecting me with Sally led to a new client engagement, a new idea, meeting my partner, etc.”

    Specifically, on Apologies

    Similarly, a great apology is grounded in specifics:

    “I am sorry I was late this evening. We both value not wasting time, and my being late held you up. I feel frustrated with myself for letting you down and being out of integrity myself. I feel compassion for you feeling delayed and disrespected. I am so sorry. How can I make this right for you?”

    Notice it also ends with an invitation to discuss how to make it better. Also notice that it is an invitation to make it better for the person you are apologizing to — improving their experience of you — and not for you to feel better about your actions — improving your experience of yourself. (That is your own work to do.)

    Being humans together is often messy. We have conflicting desires and make human mistakes. Niceties help remove friction in that experience.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.43.36 AM

     
  • feedwordpress 17:33:17 on 2016/03/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , governance, organizational development, Reflections, , Teal,   

    The Thick of It 


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    These are not quite “wicked problems” so I think of it as messy or muddy. I spoke with a co-founder of my client organization today about the work we are doing. Being in the thick of it needs to be documented, so I present you with my reflections on being in the middle of the work of changing governance process in a social venture several years old.

    Zoom on art from Hava Gurevich

    Cool Factor — not so fast

    I could talk about them as a Teal organization — if we wanted to use spiral dynamics and the work of people like Laloux in Reinventing Organizations. I could talk about the organization being thrivable, as it lives into paradox, cultivates an ecosystem, and aims to generate more value than it consumes. I could talk about it in the framework of co-creation and participatory process. And so on — there is so much that is “cool” about what they are doing and how they are doing it. But actually being successful at that isn’t as cool as it may sound. It is actually thick and messy. Let’s talk about thick and messy. Let’s play in the mud a bit, shall we?

    The Challenge of Thick

    What makes this organization such a joy to be working on is how graceful they are in the muck of figuring out competing tensions as they seek to be transformative. Graceful. My second child’s middle name is Anne, which means grace. I wanted this child to have a sense of groundedness and a scope of perspective to be resilient amid the vagaries of life. This organization also demonstrates that quality of grace, to me.

    image from ChaoticRipple.com describing concept developed by Berkana Institute

    Building Bridges

    When you are building bridges you have to live in two worlds — the old paradigm and the new, all while building the path you are walking on. So what seems so cool — the new paradigm, has to still be successful in the old paradigm. And you are building it with people who personally each have one foot in the old way of doing things and one foot in the new. So it takes an intense level of mindfulness — of our own personal journey, of our organizational development, and of the larger systemic forces we operate within.

    While often the work is inspiring and visionary, it is also full of the muck of composting who we have been, what we have been doing, how we have been doing it, and the healing of systemic wounds as well.

    We act in the present moment of now-ness with open-eyed awareness of our past and the good company of our vision of the future.

    Me, Myself, and I

    I show up to the conversation as three selves: me, myself and I. As does everyone else, with their own version of the me, myself, and I combo.

    • There is me: in my own personal work, facing my insecurities and shadow, mindful of my motivations, presence, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, history, and dreams. Me, I am the one doing this work, and who I am being influences the work itself.
    • Myself, my role in this work as a midwife to the new forms. Myself, writing a book about cultivating social flow, working on the embodied practice of transforming governance, strategy, and culture for a more thrivable organization. The role I am playing and the skill or talent I bring to that role influences the work significantly.
    • And there is I. I am a multi-faceted being, operating in a system (or actually more like inter-operating systems) of this here and now time in history: during an economic, environmental, social crisis. I am a white woman with a gender and sexuality and class and 50+ other facets of identity. All that comes with being alive and aware of my facets, my identities, in systems of power and privilege. It means using what I have to bring about the more wonderful world we hope is possible, mindfully resistant to past collective patterns that are far bigger than me and myself. I am in my own state of healing, grief, and transformation as I relate to that system(s), also conscious that others often do not share my stage of grief. (And we all know the practice is way messier and recursive than the diagram below.)
    the stages of grief are loopy! | Turil

    Really doing this work well means being in the thick of all of this awareness of where me, myself, and I are positioned (as it is for everyone else involved), and with that presence of mind making meaningful change with others who are also on their own journey of awareness. This isn’t simple recipe stuff! It isn’t homogenized and pasteurized white milk of glorious social change where unicorns frolic and rainbows attain their rights.

    Two Roads Diverged…

    You make the trail as you walk it. It isn’t simply about taking the road less traveled by, it is often about making a path where there was not one before. It isn’t about a shining north star to light the idealized way either.

    It is about the dynamic tensions of being in the real mucky world with real messy humans trying to do real meaningful work.

    You probably don’t have a single factor to align with, rather instead you have several (and to varying degrees with others in the group). In our case, we have three core priorities that we need to be sorting for and aligning around, and those need to be held in dynamic tension with each other because they are often not magically aligned. The math of the complexity increases quickly, my three layers times three layers for each other person multiplied by the three organizational priorities, as well as our past experiences, present desires, and future vision. I do like the number three, I assure you. We are here to get things done. Together.

    Let’s be pragmatic here, after all. Often this means having individuals who value one of those priorities, more than the other two, experiencing actual respectful tension with the other two or more people (who hold the space for one of the other priorities). In our case, there is a vision of what the organization does, how it does it, and how it operates. What that looks like in practice, as we evolve and grow through our lifecycle, is not yet clear as we seek to honor our priorities. There are many good options for how to embody those priorities. Which way fits best? What constellation of people, time, and priorities running through which processes generate what bridge into the future we want?

    How do we balance our commitment to what we do while also transforming how we do it, as well as how we operate?

    This is the thick work of transformation, of building the bridge while you are walking on it.

    Lessons in Co-creation

    A couple years ago I went to Thailand to co-facilitate our LearnShareLab. By “our” here, I mean ci2iglobal (Co-creative Innovation and Impact Institute). We brought together co-creative social change projects from across the world to learn and share about co-creation. What we found is that very few were co-creative about who, how, and what simultaneously. Co-creative projects all have some emergent quality, but they differ in whether that emergent element was who, how, or what.

    http://ci2iglobal.com/case-studies-in-co-creative-impact-and-innovation/

    This matrix has co-creative about who on the right and co-creative about what on the bottom. It does not include the co-creative about how element.

    • By co-creative on who, I mean it is an open question who is included and invited. Who participates is who responds to the open invitation.
    • By co-creative on how, I mean the process of working together is not clear but emerges through leaderfulness of all participants helping to shape the process.
    • By co-creative on what, I mean the output of a working group is not clear at the beginning but emerges in the process of being together.

    So, we often see some combination of dialing it up on one aspect of emergence and down in another, to help us reach our goals within the limits of the time and resources we have. Or we see a recursive pattern: being emergent with process rarely, people regularly, and output always, for example. There is no single perfect way of doing and being in this thick muddle of transformation. The alchemy isn’t worked out already.

    Right now, with this client, we are clear on who is present to co-create, we have a sense of what kinds of process we prefer, and we have some vision for the output. Being a bit fuzzy on the second two gives us an opportunity to co-create what the next phase governance and communication structure and process can be, within some reasonable limits or boundaries. And we need boundaries to manage the complexity!

    Hacking Processes

    We see, in our research for the book on social flows, the value of creating process hierarchy when we are trying to move away from structural — positional hierarchy. If the work is not about having a few core people with positional power making decisions; then maybe process, which we all agree on, can make decisions for us as a collective.

    What I am designing for the client is just this type of process — well, more like a process generation engine — that allows us to start with a few simple protocols and build and evolve process hierarchy over time (on top of — or in harmony with — the existing process architecture).

    Guiding Principles

    So far we have worked out our principles. I don’t mean a bunch of trendy phrased statements that get stuck on a report and flash across the website. I mean something with the passion of a manifesto and the clarity of operating instructions. We don’t want a set of rules that restrain us to an ever increasing bureaucracy of rule creation, maintenance, and mediation.

    We want a set of principles to operate on, so that all decisions and actions that honor those guiding statements have coherence with the organizational body, regardless of what position the person acting on them holds.

    We want to learn from the insights of swarm behavior, that a few clear and simple principles can guide and shape collective action without anyone dictating what that action ought to be.

    Running Small Experiments

    We don’t magically transform to look like the new way of doing things, we build the steps to get from here to there. Doing so means picking what ways we are not going to be like what has been in bite size chunks. What is the one thing we are going to do differently this quarter? What are the three things we are going to avoid doing? Tackling the ideal list of 12 things or 42 things isn’t kind to the humans who are trying to do the real work of becoming me, myself, and I in the emerging organization.

    Changing organizational habits is a fractal version of changing personal habits — very few succeed by going whole hog and sticking with it. This has less to do with persistence and more to do with not knowing what the consequences of a shift are. If we commit to not interrupting each other at meetings, what does that do? So, we run small experiments to test out a new habit for the organization.

    Next we will work on some simple processes to try, test, and iterate on, given our combination of priorities, while blending what we see working at Morningstar, Holacracy, Liquid, etc. We create something of a style guide for organizational culture. But you can’t force that on everyone! It has to be home grown from the very foundations of the organization. I use participatory process to involve the people who will be acting on the new process in the very development of that new process so they understand the drive for it, the way it works, and feel like they had a hand in creating it. (Liberating Structures, for example, has participatory processes to select from, based on the goals set.)

    Zoom into art from Hava Gurevich

    Culture

    It is such an honor to be part of an organization with such a profound approach to a learning culture. I have recently completed reviewing the survey assessment from various participants in the organization. It is quite clear that the day to day processes, the way meetings are held, and conversations conducted are full of care and compassion as well as highly open to feedback. It is also inspiring to get some challenging feedback about what more participants want from us. For example, if someone rated the organization as 3/5 on something that matters to us, they also rated us 5/5 on learning and feedback, commenting that they have faith we will get there because of our commitment to evolving. It is so encouraging to read participant feedback that says we are doing a good job of practicing our values, have clarity about where we need to evolve, and have demonstrated a willingness to listen and reflect with our participants.

    When I left my job at a publicly traded company, I could not have imagined an organization that was doing what we are doing now, being in the thick of it as we are.

    Whatever process and governance alterations we come up with that help the organization grow, the core DNA of the culture of the organization amazes me and will inform the direction we take. This is messy work being done by messy humans with a great deal of self-awareness at multiple levels. We aren’t changing the world overnight, though sometimes we change ourselves overnight.

    We are here for the long journey of personal, collective, and systemic transformation, finding and co-creating our own messy path into the future.

    Gratitude

    I am deeply honored to be working with this client, the individuals creating and recreating the organization inspire and amaze me. Their personal awareness and purity of intention make playing in the mucky mud a real pleasure. It is so mind-blowing to get into a conversation about transformation and be understood so quickly when pointing to various bodies of work that the transformation builds upon. So much gratitude to the giant shoulders we spring from. I am deeply thankful for the wisdom of practice with others in this field: my co-author Herman Wagter, my practitioner circle at ci2iglobal, and my friends in personal, collective, and systemic transformation that have shared with me.

    [simultaneously posted at https://medium.com/@nurturegirl/the-thick-of-it-44ee5a509a7d#.bkk2xohdq]

     
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