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Come and Listen to the Trees: 27th May to 4th June, London

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Unbelievable but true. We have literally given trees a voice and we can’t wait for you to hear them!

 London Tree Week, 27th May and 4th June, 10am to 4pm. Free Entrance.

Venture along the Thames, just past Tower Bridge and you’ll come across Potters Fields Park. This little green oasis, snuggled beside City Hall, is a haven for people, nature and some very special  trees. We’ve partnered with the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, The Woodland Trust, to bring you an Audio Trail as part of London Tree Week where you can experience:

  • Treelaxation

  • Poetree

  • Biodiversitree

  • Histree

  • Air Qualitree

We are grateful to all the wonderful people who lent their voices, including award-winning poet Claire Dyer who wrote an incredible poem for Poetree. She has given the Ash tree a voice, drawing upon mythology, history, nature and our role in looking after these endangered trees. Also thanks to award winning-journalist Hazel Southam who lent her voice for Histree - it's gritty and gripping! Then of course the one and only Poco Drom with the amazing Biodiversitree song - but you'll have to find the Wingnut Tree at Potters Fields Park to hear that!

Below are a few totally treelaxed folk at our debut event in Prospect Park, Reading. That oak is 400 years old!

4P6A1307                                        Photo thanks to Maria Andrews Manifestafilm

Get a free dose of nature from The Tree Doctor

The Tree Doctor will be on duty each day, helping to combat symptoms of 'Nature Deficit Disorder' by prescribing specific talking trees and other doses of nature (including lots of fun, hands on activities throughout the site) ...all treatments are FREE on the NHS (Natural Health Service).

IMG_8597                                         Photo thanks to Christopher Widdows

You won’t believe your ears!

These 5 trees will tell your their stories through history, poetry and song. Immerse yourself in an amazing sonic experience and discover the wonderful benefits trees give to people and the planet.

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Watch our little promo to see how the eclectic Nature Nurture bunch gave trees a voice...

Film by Manifestafilm.

Thanks to the AMAZING team Green TreesThink EngineerWilliam MathewRichard Bentley, Richard Ganpatsingh and ThinkLockhart.

Tech team behind the scenes - a concoction of Raspberry Pi, circuit wizardry and a sprinkle of Python...

Why are we doing this?
Positive health outcomes are linked with access to natural environments rich in biodiversity. The State of Nature Report 2016 revealed that 56% of our native species have declined over recent decades. The HLF State of Parks report 2014 shows our urban green spaces are under threat and highlights the need for communities to take on a greater role in their care. Meanwhile we are less active than ever before and our health system is in crisis. Our sedentary lifestyle is leading to rising levels of obesity & stress.  Poor Air quality is endangering human health.
People need nature. Nature needs people.
Our solution is to  co-design a way to enable nature to talk with technologists, ecologists, creatives and our community, built upon 5 years of  achieving  positive outcomes for health, wellbeing and environmental stewardship through our previous nature engagement projects. Talking Trees connects people with trees. In doing so, their physical activities increase and they experience the restorative effects of nature.  Spending time in the natural environment is the first step towards raising awareness of and postive action on environmental issues.

Directions:

Potters Fields Park lies at the very heart of London, on the southern side of the Thames. It can be accessed either via Tooley St, Tower Bridge Road, the Queen’s Walk from More London, or from Shad Thames. The best postcode to use for SATNAV or Google maps is SE1 2AA.

The park is managed by the Potters Fields Park Management Trust. They have a great website with fascinating information about the wildlife and history of this special space.

 

Help house our stuff – storage needed…

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Please help us find a place for our stuff.

The size of a garage will be enough.

If it's cheap or free, that's certainly best,

And ideally near to Reading West.

Friends, Readingers wild folk, lend me your ears. What I mean to say is, please can you keep your ear to the ground? Do you, or anyone you know have a garage, shed or other possible space where Nature Nurture can store several crates containing our workshop equipment?

As many of you know, we've been providing FREE workshops, events and learning resources for families, schools, children's centres and youth clubs for the last 5 years and have helped literally 1000s of children to go wild in Reading's parks woodlands and meadows.

As you can imagine, we have a fair bit of kit; wellies, bug hunt kits, garden tools, tarpaulins, art materials, event shelters. The list goes on. To keep costs down Nature Nurture HQ is my home and we've reached a point that we are literally bursting at the seams.

We have around 8 large plastic crates, fold up tables and shelters. We are looking for a secure place to which we can gain access by arrangement or be given a key. A location within Battle, Norcot, Southcote or Tilehurst would be ideal.

Nature Nurture relies on grants and corporate sponsorship and any money we can save on storage means more money spent on providing free activities for kids.

Please get in touch if you or someone you know might be able to help.

Thank you.

 

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Talking Trees – is this really possible?

If trees could talk, what would they say, Would they talk of the past, or tomorrow of today?

 

Nature Nurture are on a mission to connect urban communities with the nature on their doorstep.

"Hmmm - but how can we do this? There's just so much noise to break through."

Well we have come up with something: We reckon that if we can give nature a voice, people just might listen.

And who better to take to the stage than our old friends the trees. Nature Nurture proudly present:

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I love nothing more than to draw amazing people together with a shared vision; diverse skills and experience feeding into the design process from the concept stage. That’s just how Talking Trees came about. Last week an amazing brainswarm took place. A coming together of ecologists and technologists, installation artists and sonic artists, programmers and electronics engineers Forest School leaders and thought leaders.

We’re dreaming up all sorts of possibilities - ultrasonic directional sound, buried bone conductors, woodland animal hats with wireless speakers, ibeacons, audio spotlights ... it's all pretty exciting.

What's more our friends at The Woodland Trust think it's a brilliant idea and have commissioned us to make 10 trees talk as part of London Tree Week! Can't wait.

Thanks to the AMAZING team Green Trees, Think Engineer, William Mathew, Richard Bentley, Richard Ganpatsingh and ThinkLockhart.

Why are we doing this?
Positive health outcomes are linked with access to natural environments rich in biodiversity. The State of Nature Report 2016 revealed that 56% of our native species have declined over recent decades. The HLF State of Parks report 2014 shows our urban green spaces are under threat and highlights the need for communities to take on a greater role in their care. Meanwhile we are less active than ever before and our health system is in crisis. Our sedentary lifestyle is leading to rising levels of obesity & stress.  Poor Air quality is endangering human health.People need nature. Nature needs people.
Our solution is to  co-design Talking Trees with technologists, ecologists, creatives and our community, built upon 5 years of  achieving  positive outcomes for health, wellbeing and environmental stewardship through our previous nature engagement projects. Talking Trees connects people with trees. In doing so, their physical activities increase and they experience the restorative effects of nature.  Spending time in the natural environment is the first step towards raising awareness of and engagement with environmental issues.
Roll up Roll up for the first Talking Trees experience - Prospect Park Reading, 13th April, 11am to 3pm. More details soon.Talking TreesNatureNurtureCIC 

Tech & Nature: Woodland Wonder

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So this is our next plan...What do you think?

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The Mayor of Reading and her son loved our Soundmap!

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The crowds swarmed to play with our Interactive Sound Map at Tomorrow's Reading on Saturday. Commissioned by Intelligent Health, this work of art caused an auditory stir...

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Mayor of Reading Sarah Hacker, pictured above with Reading CIC's Alex Brennan said,

"It was brilliant . My youngest was transfixed and found every sound. I've never seen him so enthused before."

Most people imagine we're always out in the wild...but no, we sometimes come indoors & love a bit of high tech and thanks to the amazing William Mathew, Richard Bentley and Richard Ganpatsingh, our idea came to life. If you want to know how we did it in technical terms, you can read William's blog.

Richard Bentley sought out a genuine Berkshire Hedgehog and recorded it's snuffles and grunts.

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Why did Intelligent Health Commission this and what's it all about?

Intelligent Health are exploring ways of connecting people with the place they live, work and go to school. Strolling, cycling or running around your town will reveal distinct sounds, sights and smells and enable you to connect with other people out and about. Some of us are drawn to modern architecture, others to quirky industrial heritage or the buzz of the town centre. These places nurture a sense of belonging and build a sense of who we are. But connecting with nature is important too;

You might choose to meander through the park on your way to work where you hear the birds tweeting, behold the trees and smell the grass - and if you keep it up whatever the weather, you’ll gain a sense of time and connection with nature’s seasonal cycle. A great way to start your day!

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Nurturing our sense of place supports our health and wellbeing

Intelligent Health's flagship Beat the Street programme increases physical activity levels, but that’s not all; They transform towns and cities across the UK into real life games. Participants discover more about the place they live and connect with their community along the way.

They’re exploring innovative High Tech solutions to get people active

Yes, we know screens can encourage us to stay on the sofa, but at Intelligent Health they see technology as an enabler. Beat the Street, for instance uses Radio-frequency IDentification (RFID) readers called ‘Beat Boxes’ placed on lampposts around the town. Excited by the ‘game’ element, 1000s of people sign up and get active with their Beat Card, monitoring their movements via a website where they can see their progress and compete to make their team beat the rest and be the best.

If you can’t catch the Soundmap at Tomorrow’s Reading, you can come and play at Meadow Madness - we’ll be there with Beat the Street at Forbury Gardens, 14th May. Hope to see you there!

The Interactive Soundmap was created by Natalie Ganpatsingh (Project Manager and Conceptual Designer), William Mathew ((Design and Fabrication), Richard Bentley - (Location Sound Recordist/Sound Designer), Richard Ganpatsingh (Digital Architect from HeathWallace) programmed the Raspberry Pi computer and Scratch software, assisted by his 10 year old son Zak.

What's the future for High Tech Nature Nurture?

Our vision is to get people active in their towns and green spaces - connecting with people, discovering local nature and heritage, leisure and culture and all the volunteering opportunities that are on offer. With so much technology in our lives, we might think that digital media keeps us sedentary on the sofa, but we believe in the power of harnessing technology to encourage us to explore our towns. The technology we've used in creating this map is accessible and 'open source' - rather than a didactic 'locked in' system, there's a way in for educators, young people and tech hobbyists; the power to create innovative tech tools is in the hands of the people. Here are a few future projects we have in mind:

1. Educational Resource bringing together Physical Activity, ICT, Geography and Media:
We'd like to develop the 'Sounds of our Towns' map into an educational resource; an inspirational tool that encourages young people to learn about hardware and coding not within 4 walls, but out there. An enabling tool, through which they can determine their own learning journey using sound, photography and video; personalized mapping of what matters to them. And why not throw in a handful of augmented reality - such as the Blippar app through which you can bring physical objects in our town to life with immersive digital experiences.

2. Talking Trees:
It's no surprise that we value trees; not only their importance in our eco-system, but their positive impact on our health and wellbeing. Our Talking Trees idea works like this: You're invited on a journey to discover 12 trees. You venture up to a tree and as if by magic, it sings you a song, tells you a bit of history or recites a poem. The tech beneath the magic could employ either a smart phone app, pressure sensitive hidden ground pads or even PIR (passive infrared) motion sensors. We could hide ruggedised directional speakers disguised within the trees or just let people listen via their phones. We'd capture the audio from our talented pool of local poets, actors and natural historians. We could use RfID technology and an open source programming platform such as Raspberry Pi or Arduino. Local schools could get involved, creating their own interpretations and audio trails. We could create similar trails to enable people to discover local heritage or cultural locations.

3. Interactive Sound Parks:
How can we encourage more people to play in the park and take a walk on the wild side? I know, use Makey Makey to rig up a park! Touch the oak tree - what sound does it make? Tap those sticks - wow it's a keyboard! Strum that grass - is that a harp? We'll go crocodile clip crazy in the local park and organise a programme of sensory events, connecting people with place in an unusual auditory manner.

Thanks to Salvo Toscano for the first and third photo and to Richard Bentley for the second.

Nature Nurture goes High Tech with Soundmap!

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Listen up! We've designed an Interactive Soundmap of Reading - For just £6 you can buy a Family Ticket or £3/ individual ticket for 'Tomorrow's Reading' at Green Park on Saturday 7th May - What will the future look like? Where will we live? How will we live, and what will we eat? Come and hear, touch, feel, taste and experience at this amazing one-day interactive festival. We were delighted when Intelligent Health (the company behind the brilliant Beat the Street) asked us to create an exhibit for their stand...

A Maker's Blog, by William Mathew

I am a Designer/Maker with a background in audio technology and project development. At the start of 2016 I was approached to collaborate on ideas and designs for an interactive showpiece for Tomorrow's Reading, part of Nesta's FutureFest programme. The process from conception to completion threw up a host of challenges and possibilities but it all started with a phone call and some serious brainstorming!

In January on a chilly holiday in Brighton I took a call from Natalie Ganpatsingh (Director of Nature Nurture CIC). She was developing ideas for Intelligent Health in Reading and wanted my advice regarding fabrication and technical design. We bounced ideas off one another, working through the aesthetic and the practical possibilities and by the end of our conversation one in particular had begun to take shape- a tactile interactive map of Reading enhanced by bold graphics and user-triggered sound clips designed to draw people in and reveal the town in a different light.

Here are a few of the sketches I made during our first brainstorming session.

Sketch1

...a marriage of skills

As soon as we got the green light from Intelligent Health this initial contact was swiftly followed by a meeting of the team which Natalie, as Project Manager and Conceptual Designer, had assembled to accomplish the task of designing and building the map. Richard Bentley - Location Sound Recordist/Sound Designer- would provide the sound clips captured around Reading, Richard Ganpatsingh - Digital Architect from HeathWallace - assisted by Zak (his son aged 10) would assemble and program the Raspberry Pi scratch computer and Scratch software and I would design the triggering electronics, audio integration and build the map from the ground up. We all collaborated on the interactive features and developing the look of the piece.
Felicity Wehrle from Owl and Cat Design worked on the graphic side, integrating design elements and branding created by cream design. The durable map table surface was printed by Hobs Reprographics.

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Richard Bentley sought out a genuine Berkshire Hedgehog and recorded it's snuffles and grunts.

RB

On the way home from that meeting with a provisional deadline in place I sketched out ideas for how it could function and how to make it inviting, intuitive and interesting. The focus was on providing a means for people to re-connect with their hometown, their community and their local ecology while at the same time offering ideas and inspiration toward developing a healthy lifestyle. Beyond these key criteria the practical design needed to be modular and scalable with the flexibility to be extended and upgraded. We also wanted to make it as appealing and accessible as possible such that schools, community groups and the ‘maker’ community could benefit by utilising some of the ideas and innovations which came out of its development.

Last but not least the whole thing had to be portable and tough enough to stand up to extended use in a range of environments.

The design is in the detail and the detail in the design

I first began work on prototyping the triggering system with 3 options emerging as the most viable- two conductive and one magnetic. After consultation we opted for a concealed magnetic switch using a wooden counter with an embedded magnet. Despite being a relatively simple concept the design is in the detail and the detail in the design. A good deal of testing and refinement was needed to select magnet and reed switch combinations which provided consistent triggering but would not activate adjacent points on the map or generate false triggering artefacts when interacting with the programming.

Sketch2

Once the critical triggering mechanism was proven I moved on to the large scale design and material requirements. We sourced a basic table second-hand which I re-engineered to provide a rudimentary skeleton for the structure. Materials deployed in construction ranged through a variety of plastics, acrylic fabric, plywood, hardwood, softwood and a wealth of fixings, wiring and connectors. Almost all of it was sourced locally except for a few electronic components. The bulk of the materials purchased or on order I was then able to put together a simplified 3D rendering of the design.

Communication is key

Perhaps it’s a cliché but as with most projects the key to making this work was maintaining good communication throughout. Not just to keep everyone updated but also in sync with each other’s progress. I exchanged regular correspondence with Richard G in particular on how best to interface the electronics with the Raspberry Pi and with Natalie on the evolving look and feel of the map. I divided the fabrication into stages however many of these stages overlapped as work progressed at different rates and new challenges or refinements cropped up.

Iterative Design

Once I had finished constructing and painting the supporting table I began to install the wiring (pictured below with help from Malachi the cat) and assemble the trigger modules (*Pictured below right*). At the same time I crafted the magnetic counters ready to attach to the printed characters.
One of the final elements to be integrated was the sound system. Audio output from the Raspberry Pi was straightforward enough. High quality reproduction was essential but the speaker placement and orientation was also critical to create an accurate and effective soundfield for each user positioned around the map.

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With all the components and substructure complete the last stage was full assembly and cosmetic finishing followed by extensive testing and troubleshooting. Seeing it all come together for the first time was incredibly satisfying. A few minor tweaks were needed here and there but everything worked well and I put this down to good planning and a flexible iterative design process.

To recount the story of the Interactive Soundmap’s design and fabrication in full detail would take up more space than I have here and probably bore most people to tears. Suffice it to say that from design, through development to delivery the project evolved and underwent progressive testing and adaptation to achieve the best results both aesthetically and functionally.

Here is a sneak preview of our testing ...

If you can’t catch the Soundmap at Tomorrow’s Reading, you can come and play at Meadow Madness - we’ll be there with Beat the Street at Forbury Gardens, 14th May. Hope to see you there!

Our wild year 2015

Thanks to our AMAZING  team, partners, funders,  & participants for making  2015 an incredible year:  1300 people experienced our  FAMILY WILD DAYS  Nursery School children went wild weekly,  Funding flew in from the   Heritage Lottery Fund, The Peoples health Trust,   Reading Borough Council & corporate sponsors  Dialog & Olswang  We produced wild activity maps for parks,   YEE HAW  we launched the Wild West Project,  created willow creatures for the  WILD WOODS  PROCESSION & loads of littluns loved   lantern making and joined John the  GINORMOUS GIANT  as he strolled through the town.  Goodbye 2015 – it was nice knowing   you,  Natalie Ganpatsingh, Director Nature Nurture CIC

... there were even more wild happenings in 2015 that we couldn't fit within the graphic, including nurturing creativity with children at All Saints Junior School, Global Arts with St. John's Primary School, outdoor learning with Oxford Road Community School, wild adventures with young people from the Red Balloon School, environmental education with children from Amersham Road Youth Group at Rushall Farm, theatre scenery creation in Reading and the South of France, the design of the 'Wild Child Adventure Pack' and consultancy for The Land Trust at Everton Park, Liverpool. Hmmm...I think that's it!

See the magic unfold in the wild woods…

It was just another evening at Norcot Community Centre...or was it?

Who are they with giant ears coming out of their hats? Hey...it's Poco Drom and the long-locked flautist? Why, that's The Green Man! Oh my and all those people with their lanterns, braving it outside on this winter evening...

This was our first Wild Event at McIlroy Park as part of our two year Wild West Project funded by The People's Health Trust. Over the last few weeks, youngsters as tiny as 2 years old from Norcot Children's Centre and Norcot Early Years Centre have been making lanterns...not only their own pyramid constructions but giant woodland animals.

We believe the creative arts can take our experience of wild places to another dimension.

The evening was wildly exciting; Jean, a grandma who brought along her three grandchildren said:

"Just to say that we very much we enjoyed the evening. I would like to say how well organised you were and such skills to make the animals. The musicians were also very good and entertaining. It is good to know that there are such caring people."

And Helen, manager from Norcot Early Years Centre said:

"A very enjoyable session which brought families together to work as a team to create the lanterns, encouraging families to explore the local area and create friendships/links with other people from the local community."

Thanks to everyone who worked with me and to everyone who came along and made the event so special!

YEE HA! Successful bid for the Wild West Project!

It's all go in the Wild West! Thanks to two years funding from The People's Health Trust we're gonna re-wild the child in a couple of amazing spaces - McIlroy Park and Lousehill Copse. Tomorrow we'll be out there braving the wind and rain with the gang...

The project involves weekly 'Wild West Wednesdays' with Norcot Children's Centre, a monthly 'Wild West Saturday Club' and three 'Family Wild Days' in collaboration with Norcot Early Years Centre.

We've joined forces with 'Friends of McIlroy Park' too - this tireless wild bunch have been looking after the park for over 40 years! We'll be building dens, creating wild art, foraging and cooking wild, hunting mini-beasts, storytelling, making lanterns, learning about trees and our forest dwelling animal chums...and a great deal more to boot!

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This is the first time that we've had the opportunity to spend time in the same wild space with the same people over such a time span and we reckon we can work with our partners to make a lasting impact.

As part of the project we've formed a 'Wild Steering Team'- this combination of parents, child-carers (like the amazing Kirsty) and conservation volunteers are exploring the barriers that get in the way of our children spending time outdoors and co-designing the programme. A couple of local ladies remember when spending time in the wild was part and parcel of family life. They raised their families in Thirlmere Avenue and at any moment would call over to a neighbour, "What are you up to today? Want to come up to McIlroy?". Families would spread out the picnic mats and children would enjoy the wild. Our vision is to make this commonplace for today's kids.

And...do you remember 'Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead?' Well this project includes a film budget and we're making a series of short videos led by the kids, showing various things you can do in the wild. You can reminisce by watching this clip.

So howdi partners and catch you some time in the wild!

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Thanks to Lynda Bowyer Photography for this fine photo.

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The funders are really specific about the project beneficiaries - if you live in the map area above then get in touch!

Families go Wild around Reading!

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Hundreds of families picnicing in the park, a group of children singing animal songs, another group making weird and wonderful creatures out of clay and painting butterflies...then venture deep into the wood to discover children creeping along a blindfold trail and learning about trees. Walk across the meadow past the bug hunters and there’s a stream - the children are helping themselves to welly boots and they’re paddling away!

What’s going on? It’s a Family Wild Day.

Nature Nurture are on a mission to give people the chance to play, learn, enjoy nature and get active outdoors in their local green space.This August the Nature Nurture team provided Family Wild Days at Arthur Newbery Park, Palmer Park, Prospect Park and Waterloo Meadows thanks to £9900 funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund and a grant from Blade-based company Olswang. Natalie Ganpatsingh, Nature Nurture’s Director said “ These 4 days have been amazing; local families have been out in droves exploring the wild spaces Reading has on offer. We were hoping for 80 or so people to come along but 3 of our Wild Days had a turnout of over 400! It looks like Reading families are really going wild!”

Jas Millington who went to the Palmer Park event with her kids aged 5 and 3 yrs said “It was so lovely to have an event which makes them appreciate nature & wildlife, discover & explore for themselves & have fun! Thank you.”

Nature Nurture like to collaborate with local conservation groups and were joined by the Tilehurst Globe at Arthur Newbery Park. They are now applying for more funding to run Family Wild Days in May / June 2016, to tie in with Beat the Street and Reading Year of Culture 2016. They're also devising a Doodle Tree Trail in the town centre with The Museum of Reading and local artists.

Members of The Wild Network

the-wild-networkWe’re proud to be part of The Wild Network, whose mission is to support children, parents and guardians of children to roam free, play wild and connect with nature. An amazing film, Project Wild Thing, kickstarted this nationwide movement and we’re going to create ‘The Wild Town Toolkit’ which we’ll share with other organisations across the land who want to make their own town go wild!

See what other people are saying about Wild Town here
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