Intro & Synthesis of Just Language – Invasive Speces Jan 5 2021.mp4 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best video automated transcription service in 2021. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular video file formats.
Just to give you that, that morning, we are now reporting, thank you for the reminder, you are keeping me on my toes. I like it.
All right. So welcome to a conversation that we’ve called just language about invasive species today. And we’re hoping that this is going to be a starting point for more conversations and we’ll talk more about kind of where we’re coming from and how we got to where we are today. But there is an agenda slide if you want to take a look at that. But we want to start with some introductions. My name’s Chris Widmaier. I’m an educator and founder of a business I’ve called green collar collaborations that I’m using as a way to work together with different people to build programs and projects that lead to a more hopeful, sustainable future. I am in Rochester, New York right now. And yeah, and I’ll pass it over to Daniel.
Thank you, Chris. So I’m Daniel Branch. And first of all, thank you guys so much for joining. When we started this, I really thought like 20 people were doing. So I’m really excited. I’ve been an environmental educator for about 13 years. I started this journey on accident. I was volunteering at a small sanctuary full of exotic animals in Kentucky and no one else wanted to give tours. So I did it and I actually really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun introducing to strangers, to these animals that I adored and got to know personally and a few of them that I really did not adore. But since then, I’ve worked in a variety of locales rural Wisconsin, Manhattan, and I worked with a variety of different people. And one of the things that was important to me is her is important to me is building programming wherever I am that is relevant to the people who are coming to these programs. I want them to be relevant, impactful and also positive because the overall goal is to connect people to nature. Isn’t that why most of us do what we do? So I was sitting in a workshop led by Dr.
Drew Lanham, and Drew is an incredible human if you’ve ever had the chance to learn from and take it. But he brought up an anecdote or a story from his past. He was on a field trip with some Sudanese refugees and. They were listening to an educator just like me or you guys talk about environmental, I mean, sorry about invasive species, and he could see the looks on their faces and how it was triggering for them because they’d heard those same exact words used when people were talking to or about them. And I just thought about all the programs I led and how I had been that person. Over and over again, and I didn’t want to be that educator anymore, so that day I started asking colleagues, I asked people in person at the workshop, asked people in emails and text messages, and I didn’t really find any answers. So eventually ended up me asking in this urban collective group, I don’t know if all of you and I know many of you are, but I ask the question, how do we teach about invasive species and what words and what lens do you use?
And I didn’t think that would get a big response. But over a hundred comments later and we had everything from suggestions to, oh, my gosh, I’ve never thought about this, but we didn’t have an answer. So, Chris, as one of the comments agreed to help facilitate this and make this conversation happen. So when we’re thinking about is there really a need for this conversation? Absolutely. You can look at the pamphlet. If you guys could see the emails and responses we’ve gotten since we started this, there was a there’s well over 100 hundred people who registered. So are some one hundred people who did and more that wanted to. So there’s definitely a need. But we need to talk more about that question. So I’m going to let Chris take over to to reframe this for us.
You’re still muted.
We still need it, all right. So I never thought we’d we’d have to tell people, turn people away. So it’s fantastic. So the framework we’re going to use today and that we’ve decided to think about this is a cycle of inquiry. And a lot of my background is in high school teaching. And I was an instructional coach for a while. And this was a framework that we used that I really like where it respects the fact that education is is this iterative process and it’s always ongoing. And so we kind of started with the analyzing data like Danielle just talked about. And then from there, we’re going to talk a little bit today about how we’ve decided to frame the conversation and the key questions that we’re going to talk about today and then talk a little bit about the literature and people’s experiences. And again, the Padilha did a great job of capturing that. And then the discussion is going to kind of jump in in that era between sharing our own experiences and developing and refining an action plan. And then at the end of this, it’s all about the action. It’s what are we going to do? And and how do we know whether or not what we’re doing is working? And then what do we need to do next? And you can see the link and we’ll share this again.
But there’s a link this this is taken from the school reform initiative, and they have a lot of great equity based protocols for teaching and learning. So then we decided to frame this like this. Right. How do we apply a lens of identity, diversity and justice to the topic of invasive and introduce species and how it is taught and kind of even recognized that by using the word continuing to use the word invasive, that we aren’t we haven’t corrected this situation yet, but hopefully, as we make progress, will be able to take some action so that we’re using words that we all feel comfortable with and concepts that respect everybody’s humanity. Right. So the frameworks that we’re using and have kind of been talking about as we go through this is one a social justice frame. And I’m a big fan of the teaching tolerance, social justice standards. I put a link in the slideshow and again, we can put that in the chat. But there they’re built around looking at identity, diversity, justice, and then action is the final category for those. We’re also looking at this from a scientific frame that, you know, as science educators and scientists, you know, the number one thing we’re trying to do is accurately observe, analyze and describe natural phenomenon.
But we want to do it and recognize there’s a way to shift it so that it includes everybody and that any and any person, no matter who they are, feels comfortable engaging in the scientific endeavor and recognizing that the way that it’s taught, the way that we talk about science and the things in our world affects people’s ability to access the scientific community. And then the final one is a pedagogical frame. So we’re we’re thinking about this from a teaching lens and an anti-racist teaching lens. And then again, that cycle of inquiry and as well as all kinds of other inclusive education. And and I like thinking about things from a universal design perspective of if we design things for everybody, then nobody can be excluded. And so with that, I want to pass it over back to Danielle to talk a little bit about the research and field experience.
Thanks, Chris. So hopefully you guys had a chance to look through some of the resources we sent you and hopefully maybe you found more.
If not, that’s OK, too. But this piece is really important because there’s already a ton of research out there, a ton of commentary articles about this particular topic. People have been talking about this for decades, but no one solved the issue.
So hopefully that’s where this conversation goes. So for me, I pulled out these three key things. But what I would like for you to do is to think about the research that you’ve done in your field experiences and what what key points you think are important for us to talk about today when we head into our small discussions, maybe just limit it to one or two just because there are 70 of you in here.
But for me, these are the key things that I took away from mainly the main article by Charles Warren that we shared. So the biggest thing is that this native species versus invasive species debate is fully subjective. There’s its scientific plus cultural, plus our internal biases, plus our knowledge of history and everything else combined together.
And that makes this debate so complicated. None of us really know when a species became involved in a certain place or if it was moved by indigenous.
Peoples of our colonies, we don’t have that exact information, so trying to set and choose a date and place to go back to is complicated, trying to decide if humans are natural or not natural. Everyone has varying opinions on that. So it’s a hard discussion to have because it’s kind of polarized. The second thing is, despite all of that, we know there’s quantified data that shows that there has been economic, ecological and cultural damage done by invasive species. We can look at fisheries that have been damaged. We can look at how kudzu is completely changed forest in the southeast. We know that that’s happening. But we also know that introduced in invasive species have been very beneficial to society, to society. You can just look at honeybees or the crops we grow, even on small scales, people who forage for their food or et cetera. The third thing is that there is a recommendation by some authors to and from Warren to shift the criteria to be focused on species potential to harm or add value to the ecosystem. But in my opinion, that’s pretty subjective as well. Given that, who decides what’s harmful and what is adding value is the ecological value? Is that cultural value? But I think the reason we’re all here and the biggest point comes from this quote, I think is summarized in this quote very well, the demonizing of alien species clearly represents a value system that is reprehensible when applied in human society. That’s why we’re all having this discussion. And I think that we can all agree that the language is not what it should be, or at least the whole the whole education process of this is not what it needs to be.
Chris is going to take some time and share out some of your responses, and then we’re going to head into the discussion on the we didn’t did we get anything in the chat?
I don’t know. Then we didn’t get anything about anything in the chat in terms of responses. But that’s OK. We can we can just say more time for a discussion.
Yeah, we’ve been to the discussion. And if you want to share any experiences in the discussion, that’s great. So are our keys. Key idea here is the equitable and just ecological education around invasive species. And we as we talked about this, where there are a lot of topics that we could give this treatment. So we wanted to, you know, kind of frame it like that, that this is just one of the topics that we can use to talk about equitable and just ecological education. Right. And so the two main discussion questions are, what is an ideal future? Look, sound and feel like when it comes to equitable and just ecological education around what we’re calling invasive species and then, you know, how do we get to this ideal future? And so we’re going to put you into breakout groups of around 10. I think it’s going to work out pretty well, maybe a bit smaller groups. And we’ve prepared some facilitators ahead of time. So they’ve got this discussion protocol. And again, you can look at it on the slideshow that I shared yourself as we talk. But I just some of the key things are that it’s going to start with a round robin discussion. A key piece of good discussion is making sure that everybody has an opportunity to talk. You may not take that opportunity, but I think it’s important that everybody gets at least an initial opportunity and to make sure that there’s introductions as your discussion starts. One of the nice things about Zouma is that everybody’s name, everybody’s got automatic name tags. And if you want to just your name so that it represents what you would like people to call you during the discussion, that would be great. And in addition, if you want to add your pronouns.
Chris, we lost you.
That’s OK. So I think I don’t associate your Krischan anyone else. No. OK, well, just go ahead and jump into the discussion, just a quick reminder, sorry, my laptop camera is like in front of my screens.
So when you guys jump into the conversation, they are going to hopefully that our facilitators can do so, that we can also, if you want if you’re interested to see what other people say and then we’ll come back and share. So I’m going to go ahead and do the breakout rooms. Fingers crossed. This is my first time ever being a zoom host here, guys, but you should automatically go to a room.
And so next steps.
Our goal for this is sorry, my computer, my laptop in the way of things.
Ok, so our next steps are our goals were to have people still working on this after this conversation was over. And we suggest that you do that either individually or you can work with your professional group or the people you already work with, your colleagues. And as some of you hear from a whole department obnoxiously department and some of you from the same gardens, but also the people that were in your group or Chris and I, to take action and make an actual plan, whatever it is that you think will be the best way to do this.
And then in terms of.
How making continuing this discussion, we really would like to do that, and we hope that you guys are interested in doing that, because I know we didn’t solve the issue tonight, though. I heard great conversations about this particular issue. So we hope that you’ll share any revelations you have they all share. And the lesson plans that seem to be working and of course, always getting feedback from us and from each other. What we do hope that this will continue. I I moved my laptop, Chris, and I cannot see the slide anymore. OK, there it is.
So, yeah, and if you want to work with us to continue, you know, a series of conversations around this particular question, reach out, because we definitely want to find more people to organize with us and we put a slide or connecting with us here. We’ve got email to and gotten emails from Danielle. And, you know, if you want to share your contact information in the chat or with people directly, you can and will send us an email out at, you know, with our thoughts about what happened in a synthesis of everything and kind of next steps.
And then I’ll keep trying to post to some on my website there, the green color collaboration.
But yes. So if you’ve got to go, there’s one slide here of the links from today. But if you’ve got to go, thank you very much for joining us.
And if you can stay, then let’s go back to this, the synthesising discussion, and I’m going to take your share off just because it’s easier.
So and in the future, just so you know, these will be longer conversations, Nathan yelled at me for not making it.
I didn’t know one hundred people were going to sign up, Nathan.
No kidding. I know. I mean, it’s really exciting. Who did was severely underestimated what we were getting into here. And it’s awesome. But yeah.
Yeah, one hour is not enough when I was not enough. But it’s been great guys. Yeah. And we and we really wanted it to be a starting point.
You know, it’s where it’s it’s we’re hearing people’s voices and and what’s next. So yeah, maybe if we do hear some synthesising thoughts and ideas from the different groups.
So one that’s Ellie, OK, or do you have someone else you wanted to speak either way with volunteers.
So obviously we had a really nice discussion, though. And I think the main point, I took copious notes on the slide, but the main points we kind of discussed is that scientists taking ownership of science, being political and to actively be anti-racist in our field. So that’s something that we all need to do in order to make this a more inclusive and welcoming and safe space for everyone. And then some of the a few of the things that we discussed that we felt were super salient and important was. Paying people, so supporting EPOXI in our fields with money, with child care, to do focus groups, to kind of get to hear from the communities that we’re ostensibly serving, but with compensation and definitely paid internships, we had some discussion about starting with youth and early career people. So definitely that being paid would be great, getting teachers on board. So thinking about how they’re the ones who spend day in and day out with our budding scientists and how we can get them on board with the changes that we’re hoping will be able to make. And also, we had a nice discussion about thinking about other ways that other cultures and languages use what they save for invasive species. And if that’s even a word that other languages use besides English, and what other ways might we be able to describe these terms? And just obviously diversifying our fields like white people, as as men, less higher degree is needing to be like the standard in the field. And as a white woman, I’ll shut up.
All right, thank you very much. That was a great synthesis. So how about good to.
Yeah, that was my group, Chris, so if Britney, Thompson and Britney, you still here, I’d like her to discuss one of the topics that we talked about. I see she’s she’s still there. So, Britney, if you want to discuss one of your main actionable ideas that we discussed.
So I think.
What did I tell you, I talked about how it’s not just important, the changing of language to be used not to offend the marginalized groups, but it’s a language change that is useful for all groups to create a society of people who are using language that’s reflective of like understanding and care for others.
So, yeah, and you also mentioned resilient landscapes. I thought that was a beautiful point.
Your topic about allowing landscapes to change, just like people change.
Yeah. And that’s that’s basically. Yeah, that’s yeah. So just being willing to see the change in the landscape and kind of even if you’re not able to pin down maybe a change in phrase or terminology, taking the time to in that explanation of like why this species exists or why it’s such an issue for maybe scientists or land managers is kind of explaining fully if you have the time in your curriculum to do that.
Taking the time to do that, I think is always beneficial, even if you don’t have, like, a study term. So, yeah.
Fantastic. Thank you very much for sharing that. Anything about three?
It’s was those does me all right and I’d welcome any of the group to jump in here, but I’ll just give you a summary. We really discussed just the need for clarity in the terms and that sometimes are very value laden and militaristic in in some ways related to, you know, non-native species. And it overlaps with some xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric. A good example recently is how language can really affect how we see species like these murder hornets that have been found around the country. And just really just like a change in the common name and oftentimes where can really make the difference and how oftentimes, you know, we are, you know, multilingual in naming things.
Not that the Latin name is any better, though, in some cases.
And and we also kind of circled around the idea that just more neutral language, just using their term weed has less of a political connotation might be better to use. Really emphasize, folks, some folks have said it’s just collaboration. Just I think in like I think with this group, the aspirations that we just continue to meet and to discuss, you know, beyond just this hour that we have data that would be very important to kind of come up with some mutually agreeable terms and and conversation about what we’re about, about the language we use. The other thing we see, and I think just the action items and twos is really we focus on like the number one thing that really that came up was just like listening. So if it like that example that you all gave at the very beginning, when that you see that it’s that the language you’re using is really influencing or affecting someone or triggering someone, just really we should be like multilingual in some ways and be able to, like, shift in discrete and use language to describe our work in different ways and then just and then just looking for voices that aren’t there really, I think, and just kind of going beyond the dominant terms and in culture and just in and just like learning from other people about how they would describe, you know, the plants.
You hear? All right, thank you. Thank you very much. All right. So the next group is that Betsey’s you?
Group four, we talked a lot about decolonizing and unlearning was a big term used and truth for learning about the species, about the ecosystems, about the complexity. So looking at that complexity in that systems system, I can never say that systems thinking approach, but also taking a look at how place based these impacts can be, because in some areas they are not invasive. They are not they are native. They’re not native. So taking a look at that. Less broad approach of being placed based, but we also brought in because a few a couple of us work for a state entity and there are laws and legal definitions of what these invasive species are and how that might change as we look at this.
We also discussed look at the trends, how humans have changed things over the years. Back in Victorian times, these plants were great garden plants. Now they’re invasive species, but also how people dressed affected, how those invasive species and not dangerous species on giant hogweed is what I’m talking about. Change the impacts on humans looking at how we. I can’t say the term commodify species that got a little weight for plants and into honeybees and how that changes. We also talked about looking at how species coevolve so that they have limits in this range, but if you move them to another range, don’t have that coevolution with limiting factors or predators. So bringing that concept in. But a big takeaway about how to get and move to a better future is really looking at moving away from the simplicity and the silos of education and bringing it more into that complex thoughts of systems thinking how there’s a lot of things that come out in nature. But we also did talk about bringing broader thoughts and terms and looking at other groups that aren’t here and how they can be brought into this, but increase terminology used. And we also discussed honor for the land and bringing in those diverse things. I think that’s everything anyone else want to. If I missed anything.
Sounds great. All right, thank you, Betsy, and everybody in that group. All right. Clifford, can you give us a little summary of what your group discussed?
Sure. Actually, if I could invite Jonah, who was our brilliant note taker, to to share a few thoughts would be great.
Thank you, Jonas. Always valiant. Thanks, Daniel.
So we really spent our time talking about our different experience, teaching about about these topics and how each of us had kind of come up with our own terminology. One of the things I was really struck with was one of the one of our group members talked about how it might be kind of lazy to just try to figure out one catchall word for invasive, because that’s not really how things really work. And so maybe what we should do is dig deeper into the science and really trust our participants to kind of go there with us. So instead of just giving them some quick and easy word, really saying, well, this particular plant in this particular environment interacts in this particular way. And I was I was moved by that. There were several words that did come up. So even though we were talking about might be lazies, one word, I think we also came up with some some interesting ones. One was one one person mentioned using the word naturalized for plants that have come into an environment for whatever reason, human reason or other, and wondering if that word appropriate or maybe that word should be looked at as well. One, the word pushy instead of invasive because it describes the the plant or animals behavior. And then also thinking about whether the plant is a team player or a prima donna. It’s kind of like a maybe a sports sports kind of analogy approach. So those are some of the things that we discussed.
But really getting into this idea of each particular organism has its own. Way of being in each individual environment, so really wanting to segment that is. And be really clear with participants was, I think, where we kind of came to.
I really love the idea of digging into the science, because isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing anyway? Well, most of us. But it’s interesting that all of the language that we’ve been choosing is not scientific. It’s cultural because I guess we’re human life anyway. Sorry, I just had a comment on that.
Thank you, Daniel. I realized that I also just kind of skipped two groups, the group I was in and then Brianna.
Do you want to actually, Brianna, ended up in the wrong group. It’s complicated.
There was another woman who was leading. That’s someone remind me of her name, I think. That’s what I was thinking, Deborah. What I didn’t want to be wrong anyway, Deborah, if you want to share if you had someone else in your mind that you thought I should share.
Yeah, well, I took the notes that anybody who is in my group feel free to jump in if I skip anything important. So the the ideal world that we came up with is something like this. Our language involves and includes everyone and gives everyone a sense of ownership and connection with nature. And our language demonstrates that we value both biological diversity and human diversity. And we thought that a useful resource to help us reach that ideal state with our language would be some kind of a style guide that that listed the terms that have been found. But we’ve discussed many of which that have been that have been problematic and that have given offense to some people or made them feel excluded. Because we have in our work as environmental educators and land managers, we may have used some of these terms and we want to become more aware of our language. And also a list, as we started to discuss in some of these groups of alternative terminology that we could consider, including in our language so that our language does not give offense. We I’ve never seen somebody just asked if there is a style guide for an environmental for environmental educators and we haven’t seen such a thing, but we got a start at a drafting that while we were together in the group. So we had a great discussion. I really appreciate the other group members that anybody might like to add anything. OK, well, I think there was one more group that needed to report.
All right. Yeah, so I was in group six and then we’ll have Group eight is our last group, right?
Yes, I’m answering you, but not a Meurice. But yes.
So for for my group, what we talked about that I think is a relevant thing for us to share and I’m just. The first is that we have to legitimize people’s experience and the relationship they have with our species. It was a key point and along that, that two things can be true about a species, that tree that some people would consider invasive outside your window has great value to you because you get to see it. But then there can also be economic impacts to the existence of that tree that also need to be addressed. And so Michele shared a second ago, but one of the key takeaways from ours, our group, too, is that it’s not about softening things to where there’s there’s nothing bad that all is good. It’s about making sure that we find ways to communicate, to communicate clearly and accurately, but in a way that respects everybody’s humanity. And then I think that the final way, the final thing and how do we get to that deal future is the is the new way of thinking and making sure that we continue to focus on, you know, how we think about the world determines how we see it.
And some of those things are constructed by people who talk about state borders, which is interesting and new to me and in that kind of thing, and how it treats these different species and impacts on other states.
And if anybody else from the group, especially things that I didn’t hear because I came in late.
All right, so let’s hear from grade eight and we’ll we’ll wrap this up.
So my group well, we talk about a lot of things, but I think one of the big ones was that obviously we need to figure out what kind of language we use when we teach about these things. But a lot of what needs to change is how we think about it in the context of it and how, you know, everything in science is very much about categories. But humans don’t really work that way about. Well, I mean, of course, we put humans in categories and that’s the whole problem. So moving away from that in both science, well, maybe not in science of how we teach about science and might bring in more nuance and complexity to how we talk about things would be good. And also just listening and censoring indigenous populations and other immigrant populations than a population that’s being actively harmed by how we talk about these things is, I think, the way to move forward so that we can actually have this be for everybody because we censor the populations that need to be censored. That’s step one. Bethany was the one who took notes, so I don’t know if I’m missing anything that they need you. Is there anything you want to add?
Yeah, I’ll just add one more thing that kind of stuck with me. And then I noticed that Nathan mentioned something similar in the chat that I really like so we can highlight it. But he mentioned that Heidi mentioned that these flora and fauna are are labeled as overabundant and underutilized.
They’re here and they do have a purpose. And something that came up in our group is that there are not bad plants. There’s just plants that are in the wrong spot doing the wrong thing in that spot.
And it’s like they can be doing the right thing somewhere else and be great for that that area.
And so just understanding what’s going on with the plant and something that we mentioned quite a few times in our group is getting away from these binary labels of good and bad and thinking with a more interdependent and complex lens when looking at plants.
Awesome. Thank you very much. And is there anybody that would like to add any thoughts to this whole group discussion that either wasn’t said or that you want to echo or elevate?
I just want to thank you guys for sticking it out, because it is twenty three minutes past when I said we’d be done and you’re still here. That means I mean, it says something about your investment in this conversation, which means a lot to me, because my sole original purpose was to make my programs better for the people in my community. And I’m hoping that through this and future conversations that we all get to do that as well.
Yeah, I just want to echo that as well, that thank you very much for everybody that came and shared your perspectives and right. I’ve my selfish desire to just have interesting conversations with interesting people. And this this definitely achieved that today. So thank you for coming. But then on the change in action, that will happen in individual skills and organizational skills and then, you know, at the scale of the field is a really exciting thing that the people came here ready to take on and be a part of.
And it’s not an unreasonable thing to think that the people in this room can work towards making the changes that need to happen.
So along those lines, you know, we also want to be very open about all of this that we’ve shared the PowerPoint slide link for today. We’ve got the facilitation guide, if you want to use this with your organization and just kind of, you know, turn it around with the organization.
I’m fine with that. I think Daniel would be fine with that. I mean, we discussed it fully, but if you use these materials, go ahead.
And then if you want to engage with us in any way, either, you know, with your organization or to continue this larger conversation and figure out what should be next, let us know.
I don’t know. Danielle, do you have any other closing words?
Not really. I think everyone is ready to my bedtime is in like 30 minutes.
I’m ready if I can interject just briefly and encourage. I’m just excited how many people have indicated a desire to continue this dialogue. And to me, one very valuable tool that we could create if we continue to move forward in the direction we are in some sort of brief guidance document that could provide as we put we’re putting a lot of thought, a lot of amazing ideas here could provide a guidance sense that could be used potentially by by individuals, environmental education across the country. There isn’t such a thing right now. There’s no helpful tool to kind of frame. This is the challenge. And these are some ways that you might consider approaching it. And that could be invaluable for us to think about. Think about generating.
Absolutely. I would love to work on that once we have maybe narrowed down what we want.
I think the conversations that I overheard were wonderful and the review that we did of them, it seems like we’re moving forward. I just hope that we get a little more concrete answers and maybe we don’t, maybe because it’s such a complex issue. But I hope to create something that we can use in the future. I think, Chris, that was part of your goal, to have things for the future, even if it’s workshops or.
Whatever it looks like, yeah, and I think some sort of white paper or just guides, you know, the advise advisory guide is a good idea and a good place to start. And I got so many different action items. So, you know, let’s get some working groups going and let’s make it happen.
All right, everybody, one quick question. Before everybody leaves the recording, will it be available? Will you send it out to us?
We’re going to put it on Chris’s website. I don’t know how many of the facilitators successfully recorded theirs and not. I know I started recording this and I think. Actually, it should still go to my I don’t know, but it’ll be there and I just don’t know what it’ll look like because we recorded the breakout sessions as well as the main points or the main room as well.
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