“Just be a part of change. Envision the change.” ~ Andrew Sealy
How do you define yourself?
What do you want in life?
How can you catalyze this to become reality?
What you believe about yourself, becomes embodied truth. The reality that you focus on manifests physically in your world. The key to getting what you want and being the most powerful, amazing version of you that you can be, is derived from gaining clarity on who you are and what you really desire.
“I want to see our species living in harmony with the rest of the world–the rest of the universe. I feel that we lost this connection, at some point in our society’s evolution. I feel the schism needs to be healed. I feel that there has been this separation that happened that needs to be reconnected. I feel that through inspiration and experience, it’s our species’ salvation to open up and wake up and realize that we are all interconnected species that exist with everything that really needs to restore balance.
Through my own life, I’ve realized that art is a really potent medium for sharing inspiration, for sharing wisdom. Art has the potential to transcend the veils of the ego and reach people deep within, and I feel that is where change needs to happen.”
These are the words of Carey Thompson, an artist, designer, and creator of structures and stages. He is one of many, many, bright and creative people who are tapping into their imagination in powerful ways. There is a place where you can refine your ability to imagine your ideal world and practice bringing that into reality. How beautiful is that! This place is a mystical community in Uvita, Costa Rica, which gathers every year for a few days to do exactly that–Envision Festival. It is truly an incubator for incredible, revolutionary ideas.
My husband, Sam, and I were so grateful for the chance to go and check it out firsthand and peek into the lives of many incredible people birthing amazing things, right now, on our Earth.
Envision Festival kicked off on a serene and bright morning, in the lush, coastal jungle, with a full class of eager yogis in an airy pavilion, a temple devoted entirely to yoga, movement, and dance classes. There were two movement-based temples side by side. The class was led by Kenny Graham, a US native, residing in Costa Rica, a dad, and founder of Nomad Yoga.
This was a fairly traditional yoga class, but had a unique bohemian flavor, as the teacher began to bring us together in a chant of Hanuman, a major character in Indian myth, and a symbol of strength and trust. Kenny accompanied us by playing a cheerful ukulele melody. In a yoga class setting, this was a first for me. This yoga practice felt supportive and so restorative after many hours of traveling by plane and bus, a nice blend of strengthening, stretching, breathing and reflection. Kenny guided us to drop in and connect with our breath as we moved through the more challenging poses.
Kenny later shared some of his personal truths, “This was my first class at Envision…It was for me, really beautiful, where the people…sank into the practice right away. I feel like Envision sets up a space for, what I can feel from this first class, people to be themselves to explore who they are and then to share that in community. I feel that, so far, what I got from this first class, [is] a communion of people willing to step inside themselves and expand from there.
I want my children to grow up in a place that they can have the same freedoms that I have had, to be able to travel the world safely and to feel nourished so that they can do their own inner practices and so they grow up to thrive and be happy. What I want in my own life is the same, to continue practicing life so that I find inside myself, like my own heart, my own love so then I can share that. I want to keep reclaiming the parts of myself that I haven’t claimed or I’ve let go of because I think it’s what we’re here to do.”
Envision is a safe space for us to really drop into and feel or remember what our authenticity is and then stretch or grow that and to share our true essence.
After yoga, we walked along dirt paths amidst other festival-goers, dressed in every color and texture of garment imaginable, ebbing with a flavorful variety of cultural influences. In a few minutes, we stepped into the shade of a small stage, to listen to an opening ceremony, facilitated by one of the founders of Envision, and the creative leader behind the area called, the Village Witches.
“My name is Sarah Wu. I am a human being that really loves life. I am just in complete and utter awe of our Mother Earth. I think that everything about her is just ridiculously fascinating and beautiful…I always feel so humbled by how beautiful everything is. Things like trash get me down, but it’s even like an exercise of, ‘what is the beauty in that?’
…I want to have a meaningful impact on the world. I want to be an active participant in life. I want people…to feel this empowered and really confident in their ability, whatever their ability is and their skill set is, that they do the best they can do and to always keep trying to do better, but not hurt other people along the way.”
Sarah is also a self-professed “green witch” and a “therapeutic ecologist”. “[The] idea of the archetype of the village witch is what we’re trying to embody and bring back here into this experience with Envision…When people hear the word ‘witch’, it brings up all different kinds of ideas, depending on what your background is, how you are raised and who your people are. Also, just through our mass media or storytelling, our cultural narrative is that we have made the concept of witch kind of demonic and scary.
I come from what’s called the ‘reclaiming tradition’ and through the green path of witchcraft as a solitary practitioner, it’s a deep part of my spiritual heritage and I also believe that it’s a path of activism, community and resilience. The idea of the archetype, at least of the witch, is the wild woman [or man] who is wise and free.”
Sarah sat crossed-legged upon the stage, imbuing so much health and radiance as she engaged with the audience participants, beaming her youthful smile, and wearing funky, circus-like leggings. “How can we hope to affect the change in a positive way in our communities? Creatively use and respond to change within our own human bodies, thinking about herbalism. Herbalism is the relationship between plants and us.”
She went on to answer questions from the audience, like, how to stay healthy during the festival and her thoughts on a raw diet, as well as, why she was inspired to get into herbalism initially, “I got into herbalism [18 years ago] because of my own health and not being happy with my options to take care of myself within the conventional system. I started looking for other ways.”
Not only was the Village a center for learning about herbalism, it was an umbrella which included the Healing Sanctuary, the Apothecary, and the Elixir Bar. Sarah was a pivotal teacher in a pre-festival herbalism intensive, and the initiates volunteered in a herbalism first aid clinic throughout the event.
Plant medicine always helps my husband and me to feel amazing, so I was tickled with glee to exchange words with some of the coordinators of these supportive and fun hubs at Envision.
One such intriguing person was Jill TrAshley, the Village Witches enterprise coordinator. Jill shared her desires,
“What I want for my community…is to offer a platform where people can feel safe to consume consciously and also have conversations that are lasting and meaningful. Through that process, be able to pick things up that they can transplant back to their daily lives. The idea of not getting stuck in the cycle all the time but to understand that what we’re offering here is a taste of the unimaginable…
…One of my main things I want through that whole process [is] changing our perspective around health care and turning it into self care so that those tools and those applications and those plants and those friends can be a part of people’s well being so that they can take preventative measures to be happy and healthy and live their life to the fullest…
…The Village Witches is a web of healing services that we make available to the participants of Envision. It’s a myriad of modalities, one of which I work on is the Elixir Bar. That idea is bringing an alcohol-free alternative to the festival culture so that people can imbibe consciously, whether or not they are taking a substance or they are drinking alcohol, they have the ability to come into a bar atmosphere and converse with friends, meet people and drink things from our local bioregion. We actually harvest and process tons of plants here before the festival.”
This fact was far from surprising, as the festival grounds were surrounded by such dense foliage and diversity of flora. Later on, I indulged in a trip to the Elixir Bar, where I shared how I was energetically and physically feeling with one of the baristas, and she recommended a medicinal green coffee drink with coconut milk. It was a unique and delectable pick-me-up that helped me feel more stable for the night of dancing ahead! I was especially inspired to move my body as I witnessed the incredible gravity-defying expressions of Momentom Collective performers, including aerial silk artists and fire dancers.
I deeply appreciated the music line up at Envision. As an attendee of hundreds of music festivals in my life, what I observed here was that most, if not all, of the music artists had a powerful message to share through their lyrics and the energy of their rhythms. As the numerous workshop teachers and presenters exemplified, the intention was to catalyze profound change on an individual and global level. Consider the lyrics of one such song, “Full Circle” by Xavier Rudd…
Hold it up
Fill your cup
Look out to sea
I feel that I see
Hold it up
Fill your cup
Look out to sea
Respect what I see
And I reason with you now trying to find my way out
As she’s singing all these songs
Oh she’s singing to heal my soul
Find my place, find my reason
Oh I been here so long
Oh she’s singing with the trees
Oh she’s singing to heal me
Many of the festival population chose to nourish their bodies, minds, and spirits with a trip to the Healing Sanctuary. This area was organized by Chelsea Latham, “I am a yoga instructor. I do Akashic record readings…I want joy. I want to support other people in finding joy, despite whatever life throws at them. I think that that is my goal as a teacher, as well as, as a healer; supporting people in creating their joy and choosing joy, regardless of the adversities that they’re experiencing.”
Chelsea touched on what she wants to see grow, “I am pushing for more educational programs–big educational programs at Envision…I think that takes this experience so much further away from just a festival…You’re getting more than just a retreat because you have the ability to create your own curriculum. It’s all on you, so you can make it as fun or educational or playful as you want.
It’s amazing how much you can blossom when you’re in a place where you feel safe enough to explore yourself. I think Envision does a great job of creating that.”
Lane Undjem, a member of Envision Festival’s production and media teams, also spoke on the value of creative mentorship in this untraditional setting, “…everyone, basically, here has something to teach or create, and most people are very willing to be open about that if someone is curious about how to do it for themselves or if they want to get involved in a project. The relationships that come out of this—people will get jobs all over the world or go create somewhere or visit someplace new.”
Envision Festival, for many, is a “New Earth Academy”. From daybreak to after dark, there were multiple classes held at every stage or pavilion on the festival grounds, Rancho La Merced. Beyond these workshops, intensives were facilitated, including, an Astrology Immersive, a Green Building Apprenticeship, and the Herbal First Aid Clinic. “It’s really great, we’re getting a lot better at it. In developing the relationship, as well, with the medic and with Zendo [the Zendo Project–a psychedelic harm reduction support center],” said Sarah Wu, regarding the Clinic.
“We’ve really become a cohesive group of people offering services to this festival community….This is really good solid work that we’re doing, that’s it’s not all woo-woo or spiritual. It is herbs in action, that’s what the Herbal Clinic is. Herbs do have a place in our psycho-spiritual lives, but ‘herbs in action’ is also super important to our community resilience; the human and collective’s ability to take care of themselves. The plants support us in many ways…
…The students, their experience when they leave here, they skyrocket past their peers because they just had complete embodied knowledge set in for them. It’s beautiful. I love it so much.” Sarah and her crew have also already facilitated the Herbal Clinic at several other festivals, and have plans to continue to grow and travel with free herbal health services to other events and communities. This is just one aspect of the new earth revolution that Envision is facilitating within and beyond the festival.
Herbalism represents just one facet of our relationship to plants and the Earth. Food and seeds, the source of our sustenance, was another hot topic of conversation covered by many teachers, including Winona LaDuke and Nina Simons. I see these women as ‘mothers of the tribe’; women of an older generation, fighting peacefully for what they see as our only hope to survive and thrive as humanity in harmony with our planet. Hearing these leaders speak brought chills to my skin as my entire body felt inspired to get up and make huge pivotal changes in my life and my community. I feel that their contribution was as poignant as the impact other great leaders have had in their speeches, such as, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama.
Funny, grounded and very charismatic, Stephen Brooks shared a class called, ‘The Ethnobotanical Journey’, during which he described his home and community, Punta Mona, founded by himself and his wife, Sarah Wu, and his passion in life, “I am dedicated to questioning the way everything is done, from what we eat, to what we drink, to where we live, and constantly trying to find ways to do things differently, more efficiently and better…I’ve been twenty-three years living off-the-grid in Costa Rica. We grow most of our own food. All of our houses were built from fallen trees by ourselves. We live one hundred percent solar. I go weeks without seeing a car or touching money. I live in the jungle.
I’ve basically been trying to live as ecologically and regeneratively, as possible…I want to see things change. I want to see people start connecting with the earth and with each other, and to radically shift this old paradigm way. I feel it’s happening. I’m more confident every day, so many people doing so many amazing things…
Envision is just a great platform to spread information, ignite conversations, bring people together and hopefully inspire people. With us as an example, that we can do anything, we just have to do it. The sooner you know what you want to do, the more direct you can go there…You don’t have to come to Envision…Find the people in your own area that are doing good things and work together.”
He concluded the talk by inviting the entire audience up to try a few different exotic fruits, freshly picked at Punta Mona. All of them were completely unfamiliar to me, except for jackfruit, which is available at some grocery stores back home. It was so very tantalizing and awakening, to taste flavors and textures my palate had never before experienced.
The audience sat, captivated, by Winona LaDuke’s presence as she stood on the Village Stage, a small platform adorned with many ornamental plants, leaves, vines, and flowers of the jungle. Her presence was unabashed but stoic, with a serene, knowing beauty, that suggests she has seen the entire gamut of life’s bitterness and sweetness.
Winona has long been one of the most prominent indigenous leaders in the United States, making headway into important issues, including, sustainable development, environmentalism, native lands preservation, pipeline protests and preserving heirloom seed, such as wild rice.
Her words ricocheted with power, “My friend John Trudeau, he passed on, but he used to have a saying, which was, ‘The difference between a slave in chains and a wage slave is that the first one knows exactly where he stands.'”
…What are we doing and how are we living? And how are we gonna hang out? The essential elements of a sustainable economic system, from my experience, in our communities, is first, understanding that the Creator’s law is the highest law, higher than the laws made by nation states and municipalities, and one would do well to live in accordance with the Creator’s law…Whether we have wings or fins or roots or paws, we are all relatives, and treat each other as such…Understand that the world is animate…
We also understand that if you want to live in a sustainable society, we understand that the natural world is cyclical. That is to say the moon, and the tides, and seasons, and our own bodies, we are cyclical. The natural world is cyclical, and one would do well to build a sustainable economy which is a cyclical economy.”
Winona expressed the third basic construct, “…best articulated, perhaps, by the Iroquois Confederacy, ‘In each deliberation, consider the impact on the seventh generation from now.’ As we make decisions now, remember that how our decisions will have implications for those who are not here yet, for those who have not yet arrived.”
In each statement, Winona passionately, but with great simplicity, made clear that we need to change the paradigm of how our entire lifestyle exists, “One of the largest industries is waste management because what do we do? We buy stuff from China and then we throw it away three months later, pretty much…A few months ago it was thirteen trillion tons of waste we produced in the United States, an immense amount that we’re trying to shop to someone to get rid of, right? …When they say ‘throw it away’ where is ‘away’?
That’s a linear thought process exemplified by things like nuclear waste. The United States is still waiting for the ‘nuclear waste fairy’ to come take our stuff away. There’s no nuclear waste fairy, you gotta quit making mess. That’s what you gotta do.
The other example of a linear system is the creation of the prison industrial complex. That’s the social production of waste…On a worldwide scale, there are 9 million prisoners, and 2.2 million of them are from U.S. That’s the creation of an entire construct that creates disposable people. We all know that long-term, making a prison industrial complex is not a long-term sustainability plan, to keep imprisoning people for whatever the charges are. That’s a punitive system…The paradigm has to be changed.”
Nina Simons’ talk was equally enrapturing, with an energy that was incredibly serious but also sweet and embodying the downright definition of, in my opinion, divine feminism. One of Nina’s greatest endeavors is the creation of, with her husband, an environmental organization called, Bioneers.
“We co-created Bioneers to help spread awareness of this extraordinary abundance of creative and functional solutions that are out there for many of our most pressing environmental and social challenges. Because just as humans have created the problems, humans have a tremendous capacity for creative innovation and for coming from a new modality, which is also an ancient modality of partnering with the natural world and learning from the natural world how to heal our systems.”
Much of Nina’s work is focused on helping women become fully empowered and autonomous leaders and entrepreneurs, “Some of what I’m called to contribute to is the relational infrastructure among diverse factions of women’s movements, so that women of all ages and classes and ethnicities and orientations can stand together with the men who love us… on behalf of the sanctity of life, to help transform our culture and our systems of injustice and to midwife our civilization toward the reinvention of how we live with Mother Earth.
I also want to contribute to the healing of the masculine and feminine within us all, as they manifest not only within us as individuals, but in our institutions and policies and our cultures, as well.”
Not only were these women on the forefront of the inspirational talks, Envision also had an entire pavilion established exclusively for supporting women and women’s issues, called the Red Tent. Although some of the workshops here were for women-only, a few talks welcomed men, as well. Some of the most popular classes of the weekend were taught by Melissa Boord, a native Aussie, residing in Costa Rica, close to the Ranch.
Melissa covered an extensive amount of material, including such topics as, the anatomy of the vagina, how many types of female and male orgasms there are (13 and 8, respectively), the importance of daily breast and prostate massage to effectively prevent cancer and much, much more.
“At the moment, all of our education for young boys and young girls is being grabbed off the internet, grabbed out of magazines and taken from people we have no idea who they are…and yet, we’re taking their word. I want all of our information to come back into our communities and that empowers the people in the community and also the people receiving it.
…Envision is this container that really supports and invites people to step out of the norm–what we call ‘the norm’–and step out of our boundaries that we place on ourselves or that society places on us. It creates this container, it’s like creating this sort of hub, where people step onto the land and feel so much freer.” She went on to express that what happens at Envision is not unfolding within an isolated bubble, rather, that this radical freedom creates a powerful ripple effect and a lasting change in people’s realities.
It is so very important for people to feel they can freely express their true essence.
Melissa assured us, “Because when we are expressing something that isn’t our truth, and it comes from someone else, this is the very beginning of dis-ease….We have a culture and society that is so prevalent with disease…A lot of this illness comes from the dis-ease of not being really true to ourselves…
Stress is our new norm, it is the go-to. Stress is the new crack. We become very addicted to that and then we become a machine…It’s actually against the culture of being human. To have chemicals in our food is just beyond comprehension, but we take it as the norm. That it’s okay. …For me, it’s about coming back into who we are as a human being on this planet because we are a part of this planet, we’re not separate from it.”
Life cannot sustain itself, without this precedence and awareness.
It was beautiful to see the support of teachers who did not speak English as their native tongue, as was the case with Yolimar Loreto, a shaman from Venezuela and presenter in the Red Tent workshops, “…As a society, we’re in a learning process. We have made mistakes that we need to ‘subsunar’ [to heal or correct] for the future, for our children, and for Gaia; because Gaia is what sustains us, keeps us alive. That is the legacy we want to leave to our children, to be better with our neighbor, be better as humanity, be better as One and be better with Gaia.”
In a totally different area of the festival, the art gallery, another leader was holding space for the vision of healing and evolution, “I am a divine, infinite being, in a body that has the name currently as Amanda Sage.” She is an artist and a teacher, based in Los Angeles and frequently travels the global to paint large visionary art pieces and speak to audiences about critical modern issues.
“I want to experience the celebration, [the] joy of life enjoying itself, and celebrating itself and be around others who want to do that, too, and to help inspire people to do that. I don’t think it’s a selfish thing at all. I think it’s actually really beautiful…it’s self-serving because it’s wonderful to be in a place, space where young people and everything is in a flow state.
I want whatever I feel in my art to connect through the image, through the internet, to millions and billions of people, potentially…That my art can be a beacon for others to know that they’re not alone, that we have each other, and that they’re already on the train. There’s actually nothing to do. Keep doing you, doing the best you. That’s what I’m really committed to.”
Amanda’s paintings and her talks touch on the concept of the “Peace Train”, a World Fair-esque learning experience which ideally would visit different places around the world and serve as a meeting place, similar but more innovative to our modern day music & art festivals.
“…I meet a lot of amazing individuals at transformational festivals that are doing amazing things in the outside world. I see the necessity in connecting these pioneer projects, and the Peace Train is a symbolic and real Plattform to empower them. I had the opportunity to meet Winona LaDuke at Envision. She spoke of the Economy of the 8th Fire, and how it is time to take action. She is a key holder, activist, and light filled warrior. People like her inspire me to become more active. I hope to collaborate with her and her projects in the future!”
…in a place like this we find many affirmations for solution-based action. We go back to our own little section of the world, wherever we came from, and we’re stocked up with all kinds of juicy seeds…We learn from each other and we become connected, as this global community grows. I feel like I carry a golden trumpet, like a whistle letting everyone know: ‘Peace Train’s coming!’ I see it, feel it and know we are getting ready for it. Everyone is invited, and to get started, consider what your contribution will be, what is your puzzle piece? What is in your train car? What does it look like?”
Back in the yoga temples, classes for all moods & desires were poppin’ off.
One of the most riveting classes took me by surprise, called Foré Movimiento. Not knowing the meaning of the name of the class, which was the name of the dance and music group hosting said workshop, I imagined I was going to a therapeutic movement class, like restorative yoga.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, I found myself rapidly moving my arms and legs, as I learned African dance moves, which I had never before experienced. It was dynamic, intense, taught in Spanish, and although I am an avid dance lover, this was a whole ‘nother ball game! The class was directed by Maria Laura Castro and accompanied by members of the music group, passionately drumming African beats. Foré Movimiento also riveted the crowds of festival-goers at the main stage, gracing us with a musical performance that was refreshingly wild and on point.
I can say that it was actually very therapeutic, just not in the way I anticipated!
Another first in my lifetime, I attended a very sassy “Yonicise” class, in which I was pushed to the edge of my comfort zone but in a playful, supportive environment. Women of all ages (men were welcome too), in ample numbers, got down to empowering, sensual music, in a cross between strength training, cardio, and burlesque dance. Women were encouraged to wear a yoni egg, an egg-shaped tool formed from a gemstone which is worn inside the vagina for strengthening the pelvic floor and increasing vaginal health, throughout the dance moves.
The creator of this dance form, Nicole Gayatri, shared a few words, “My vision is to help women to reconnect to their womb space and be able to use that power to create whatever it is that they want to birth into this lifetime. Healing these energetic stories that we’ve come in with from our past lives and from our lineage. In healing ourselves, we’re then able to share, to heal one another and most importantly to heal our planet.
…This is my fourth year teaching a workshop at Envision. Each year I get to meet so many amazing people who are on their own journeys of transformation. Every encounter helps to inform and encourage what I’m moving through, to channel and ‘up-level’ my offerings. My first year I taught a chakra cleansing ‘Shakti Yoga’ class, the next year ‘Unleash Your Inner Goddess’ a Burlesque-based movement journey. The past two years I developed the healing practice of transformation through self devotion that is ‘Yonicise’. Each year, after Envision…I start downloading incredible things from the Universe/Great Spirit that brings to life a whole new creation to share. I believe that really happens because of the experience I have at Envision.”
When Nicole expressed this reflection, it became very clear that Envision is as nourishing for the attendees as it is for the teachers and presenters. We are a symbiotic community cycling through infinite expansion. Envision Festival is a major catalyst for this growth in safe spaces.
The community ebbed and flowed throughout classes, stages, the market and, not to be missed, ‘la Playa’, which surged with colorful people throughout each day, particularly before sunset each evening. The salty water was a little warm, absolutely perfect for washing away the heat of the day. Funky drum music rolled over the people with the intermittent trill of a joyous saxophone tune. Fire dancers practiced their flow at the foamy water’s edge. Stunning acrobatic play was on display by acroyoga teachers, students, and friends, in a phenomenal array. These movement lovers oozed with a vibe, in my opinion, more raw and mesmerizing than even the finest circus can provide.
Unlike the circus, all of these interesting art forms were also meditative, therapeutic practices that anyone could learn about, back at the yoga temples.
One of my absolute favorite classes was with Acroyoga instructor, Andrew Sealy. In his words, “I am a happy, blessed being of light; a simple human being just doing my best to share happiness, to inspire joy and to empower truth.” Andrew’s teaching is really good at doing that, in the modality of Acroyoga.
“Acroyoga is a really incredible trust and connection mixture between yoga and acrobatics, and it really allows for people to support one another. Through that, the opportunity of support, they create a deeper awareness of themselves and how they interact with others.”
The students were encouraged to find a partner of similar height, and I was paired off with an incredible woman, who luckily for me, also happened to be a yoga teacher. As we moved through each demonstrated pose, I found myself coming eye to eye with one of my greatest challenges–trusting someone else to support me completely. It was a beautiful opportunity to explore this edge and to learn to surrender in a new way. I felt especially safe because of Andrew’s guidance throughout the class.
After class, Andrew shared his insight on this unique experience, “…Envision is absolutely incredible…it is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and come to a space of nature, and to truly have a genuine experience of learning to love yourself and others, while at the same time, benefiting nature. Because the beauty of this whole entire life that we live is that we are in harmony with nature.
The more that we can live with a sense of awareness of that, the more that we bring forth a deeper passion for all human beings, for all living beings and for this gorgeous planet that we live in.”
My beloved, Sam, and I, are so very enlivened by our travels to Envision Festival and we are grateful to now share the “juicy seeds”, as Amanda Sage described, with all of our friends and family back home. We definitely will visit Envision next year and will continue to play a greater part in our shift to the New Earth Paradigm.
We will always remember this deliciously rich, soul-expanding adventure.
Samuel & Jordan Sun Mendoza are growing younger day by day. Husband & wife world travelers, lovers of vegan & Mexican food and aspiring tango dancers, Sam & Jordan are based in Portland, Oregon. Their motto is, “We dream our reality!” infinitelylove.com
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