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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog
Updated: 7 hours 58 min ago

SSI Travel Grantee: Rachel Tholl

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 1:37pm
Rachel Tholl received a $50 SSI Travel Grant to travel to Tempe, Arizona to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University from March 21-23, 2014. She wrote a brief blog post for the Ecologue to describe the experience.


The Clinton Global Initiative first caught my eye when the SSI Faculty Advisor, Jen Christion-Myers, brought it up at one of our weekly SSI staff meetings. The word that caught my attention while I took notes was “Clinton.” I am an avid fangirl of the Clinton family – former President Bill, the (hopefully future President) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the amazing author and mother-to-be Chelsea Clinton – and a chance to be in the same room as them was very exciting. Myself, Annie Kersting (SSI’s Landscape Coordinator), and Jen all started meeting and collaborating on ideas for projects that we could create to take to CGI to represent OSU. We played with the idea of a green roof, but eventually came up with Growing Food Security. With the fantastic help of HSRC Food Pantry’s Lauren Nichols and Lydia Elliott, and the Center for Civic Engagement’s Corin Bauman, we created a plan to grow food organically at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, donate it to the Food Pantry, supply reusable bags to the Food Pantry, and host canning and cooking classes once a term. The six of us began meeting once every other week, since Annie, Jen, and I were all very busy writing applications to OSU and CGI, to name just two of the places we were explaining the project to.

Long story short, we were accepted into CGIU and OSU’s former Vice-President Larry Roper with Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul helped us prepare and fund our fees and travel. Myself, Annie, and Lydia all traveled to Tempe, Arizona right before Spring Break with our fancy skirts, dress pants, and collared shirts. The experience was amazing; I had never traveled alone before, nor been in the same room as people as amazing as the Clinton family. The thousands of international students in the program were all so energetic and full of aspirations and hope for the future – it was inspiring to see young people my age get excited about changing the future with their own hands!

Growing Food Security will have its first canning and cooking classes in the Fall term of 2014, and will hopefully continue past the 2014-2015 school year. If you’d like more information on how to get involved, whether as a participant or a volunteer, please email, call, or visit the SSI, which is on the south end of campus. Or you can apply to go to CGIU in 2015, if you have a project as awesome as Growing Food Security! Talk to Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul if you’d like to get involved. The application process starts in Fall and I’d encourage anyone with anything as initial as an idea to apply!

- Rachel Tholl

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Travel Grantee: Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey

Sun, 06/08/2014 - 12:00pm
Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, a graduate student in the Masters of Public Policy program at OSU, received a graduate travel award of $500 to travel to and participate in the 2014 meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) held April 6-11 in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

I have been fortunate to present at dozens of conferences, many international in scope and theme. But this was the first conference I had a realistic opportunity to present at that was hosted at an international destination – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. I was excited! I was also worried if I could really afford to go. After all, graduate student budgets aren’t exactly known for being plush. Thanks to the wonderful SSI program travel grant, I WAS able to go!

This weeklong conference, the annual meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS), is held in various locations throughout western North America. This was the first time it had been held in Mexico, the newest member of the WDAFS. And what a meeting it was! The location – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico – was noteable in its own right. But the truly international scope of the meeting, the large presence of international experts and Mexican university students and professionals, and the international theme – Rethinking Fisheries Sustainability: the future of fisheries science – was truly remarkable and helped the meeting to become a resounding success.

At the meeting, I presented research some colleagues and I have been working on recently on potential uses by resource managers and policymakers of data mined from social media. My interest was in whether valuable ecosystem observations could be gleaned from social media; in this case, Twitter. The short answer is ABSOLUTELY! Not only is Twitter a rich source of spontaneous observations of the natural world (e.g., species sightings) but also an excellent source of data pertaining to human-wildlife interactions; everything from the disgruntled recreational fisherman complaining about not enough fish in ‘his river’ to runners commenting on how remarkable it is to see coyotes interact in city parks or along trails.

Given the theme of the meeting – Rethinking Fisheries Sustainability, I was not surprised to find a whole host of wonderful sustainability-themed talks and special sessions to attend. And, in a way, my talk fit well with the sustainability theme (and the SSI mission). Not only is Twitter a rich source of ecosystem observations, mining data from social media is also quite cost-effective relative to labor-intensive field sampling techniques. I am not suggesting replacing field-based methodology, simply that harvesting ecosystem data that is widely and freely available online can be a cost-effective supplement to existing data. In fact, social media may even provide an early indication of ‘trouble areas’ which might allow resource managers to direct effort and resources to areas that need it the most (e.g., species invasions, problem human-wildlife interaction hotspots, disease outbreaks, etc.).

- Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Travel Grantee: Tyler McFadden

Sat, 06/07/2014 - 11:43am
Tyler McFadden received a $500 SSI travel grant to attend the International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat in Mazatlan, Mexico. Tyler wrote an Ecologue post about his experience and what he learned from it.


Mangroves are coastal forested wetlands that occur in throughout the tropical intertidal zone.  Renowned for their ecosystem services, mangroves provide habitat for economically important fish species, provide coastal protection from storm events, and contain some of the largest carbon stocks of any tropical ecosystem.  In the summer of 2013, I worked in Honduras as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program investigating the role of mangroves in climate change mitigation (see website for project details: http://www.cifor.org/swamp/home.html ).  While in Honduras, I gathered field data for my Honors thesis studying the effects of roosting waterbirds on nutrient cycles in mangroves.

In early April, thanks to funding from the Student Sustainability Initiative and the University Honors College, I had the opportunity to present the results of this research at the Western Division American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Mazatlan, Mexico.  I presented a poster as part of the 2nd International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat.  Working in the mangroves last summer, I was impressed by the diversity of fish living in the mangroves.  I was curious how nutrient inputs by birds could not only affect the mangroves, but also the fish that rely upon the mangroves.  Unfortunately I didn’t know a lot about mangrove associated fish.  This symposium brought me up to date on the current state of knowledge concerning mangrove-fish interactions and will provide future directions for my research.

In addition to learning about mangrove associated fish, I learned about how mangroves are managed throughout the world, from the Bahamas, to Mexico, to Pakistan.  I met researchers from several different countries and got to know many of the students from the Mexican Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.  One of the highlights of the conference for me was learning about all of the high quality research being done in Mexico and throughout Latin America.  Much of this work never reaches scientists in the United States because of language barriers.  The informational and cultural exchange that this meeting fostered will likely contribute greatly to the sustainable management of both mangroves and their associated fisheries.

- Tyler McFadden

Categories: Ecologue

Help OSU divert 28,000 lbs from the landfill!

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 1:32pm

As you may have heard, the Move-out Donation Drive is currently underway! This year, our goal is to divert 28,000 lbs from the landfill, and here’s how you can help:


Students living on campus can donate their extra and unwanted items in one of the donation bins, which are located in the lobby’s of each of the resident halls. The categories of items are as follows:

  • Food (Unopened, non-perishable)
  • Toiletries
  • Dry clothing, towels, and bedding
  • Household items (decor, dishes, lamps, etc.)
  • Furniture

All food and toiletries should be bagged in the grocery bags provided, while all other donations may be sorted into the blue bags or placed loosely within the
donation bins. Large items, such as furniture and wood scraps, may be placed outside next to the

Click here to download a suggested timeline for move-out, along with tips for the process.

Ask your Res. Hall’s front desk or RA if you need additional bags.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can download a suggested timeline for move-out here.

Want more information on what’s donatable? Visit the Resident’s page for a detailed guide on how to donate.

The Res. Hall Move-Out Donation Drive is a collaboration between OSU Campus Recycling, Surplus Property, and UHDS. Visit the Move-Out page for more information on the Donation Drive.

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: 2014 Move-out Goal

Wed, 06/04/2014 - 1:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win an OSU ChicoBag

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

The Move-out Donation Drive diverts waste from the landfill by providing a means for students to donate their unwanted items to local nonprofits. What is this year’s goal?

Categories: Ecologue

Energize Corvallis hiring Seeds for the Sol Interns

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:11pm

Energize Corvallis has Project Coordinator Internships available to assist the “Seeds for the Sol” team. These volunteer internships are ideal for people who have great conversational skills, a passion for renewable energy and community development, and a desire to make real change in our community. Project Coordinator Interns are dedicated to raising awareness about Seeds for the Sol, a community solar program that is pioneering a new economic model for funding residential solar-electric systems. This is a unique opportunity to help develop, manage, and evaluate a new community solar program including a marketing outreach campaign, events, program analysis, and policy implications. Internship credits are available.

Applications are due on June 3. Please see the attached for more information, or click here

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: AOR Conference

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 3:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable 20 oz. water bottle.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

The 36th annual AOR Conference and Trade Show features opportunities to attend workshops, tours, and networking with recycling professionals and experts in waste reduction. When is the last day to register for the conference to take advantage of the Early Bird rates?

Categories: Ecologue

Waste Watchers Spotlight: Kyle Knight

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 3:00pm

Name: Kyle Knight

Title/Nickname: KKnight

Degree: Industrial Engineering + Economics

Year in School: Senior

When did you start volunteering with the Waste Watchers?

April 2012.

What has been your favorite project or event that the Waste Watchers have been involved in?

The repair fairs, and get caught green-handed.

What keeps you volunteering with the Waste Watchers?

My favorite part is meeting great people, the fun events, and the leadership development.

What would you like to see the Waste Watchers do in the future?

I think the waste watchers should continue doing the Repair fairs and focus on ways to reach even more students and community members.

What is one way you reduce waste in your everyday life?

I carpool to campus and I have started a small garden at my townhouse. Both of these acts reduce carbon waste and have other sustainability beneficial impacts.

Want to learn more about the Waste Watchers? Visit the volunteer webpage to learn more about how to get involved.

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Travel Grantee: Decker McElroy

Sat, 05/24/2014 - 12:19pm
Decker McElroy was granted a $50 SSI travel grant in order to attend the Divestment Convergence in San Francisco, California in April of 2014. Decker wrote a summary of  the experience for the Ecologue.


On the weekend of April fourth students from 75 schools across the US and Canada meet to San Francisco for the second ever Divest Convergence. I got to go down with three other students to represent OSU and learn more about divestment from fossil fuels as a movement.  The general goal of the divestment campaign is to take college and university money out of fossil fuel investments in order to lower educational institutions contribution to global warming and to send a message that fossil fuels are harmful to society. At the convergence we got to learn about other schools successful campaigns and what steps they took to get their schools to divest.

Going to the convergence made me realize that OSU is ahead of many other universities in sustainably issues but we have a long way to go to achieve divestment. People knew OSU by name and knew about our specific sustainability actions and goals! The schools that have been successful in divesting are mostly small private schools. This gives OSU a chance to be the first big public school to divest and lead the way in sustainability for schools across the country. I learned that divestment will be a slow process but that by using the advice given by experts at the conference OSU should be able fully divest from fossil fuels. I came back being proud of OSU and its sustainability efforts.

- Decker McElroy

Categories: Ecologue

Electric vehicles and the Duck Curve

Sat, 05/24/2014 - 11:14am

We love it when three of our favorite things come together: solar power, electric vehicles and flattening ducks! Greentech Media recently posted an article on the timing of electric vehicle charging and how it can compliment additional power sent to the electric grid from solar resources.  The basic principle is that as the sun shines and electricity is put on the grid from solar arrays, strain is eased on the electric grid making it a good time to charge electric vehicles.

Over the course of a day, the power profile on a grid rich with solar electricity generation looks something like a duck.

During the lowest part of the curve – typically midday – is a good time for workplace electric vehicle charging.  That is, if you have them at your workplace like OSU does.

Another fun tidbit: offering EV charging can equate to a 5% raise. Read ChargePoint’s case study to find out how EV charging can raise employee satisfaction by 75% and help meet sustainability goals. So enjoy this summer’s sun and if you drive do it in an efficient electric vehicle and help flatten the duck!

Categories: Ecologue

Bike Extravaganza and Alternative Transportation Fair

Fri, 05/23/2014 - 9:35pm

On May 14th the annual Bike Extravaganza took place in the Quad as a part of the Alternative Transportation Fair. Faculty and students were able to register their bikes with Campus Security or decorate their bikes with reused material provided by The Waste Watchers. Other booths included Bike’n'Hike, Sustainable Energy Initiative, Cascades West Rideshare and Vride. The Student Sustainability Initiative was handing out items made from repurposed bike chains if participants would fill out a short survey. This survey asked how people got to campus, how people got around Corvallis and what their barriers were to using alternative forms of transportation. The results indicated that the most popular mode of transportation to campus is walking while the most popular mode for getting around Corvallis was biking. Participants also indicated that the two biggest issues preventing them from using alternative transportation were distance and weather. See the charts believe for more information about the results of the survey.

Categories: Ecologue

Northwest Earth Institute launches new Discussion Course

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 3:25pm

A new Northwest Earth Institute discussion course book has been launched. It’s titled Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice, and Sustainability. Seeing Systems empowers participants to recognize and respond to the interconnected systems of the world, making effective community action both real and achievable. It offers people a unique opportunity to gather with others to reflect on the state of local and global affairs; discuss how we as individuals can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world; and then advocate on the issues that matter most.

Check out their flyer below for more information about the course, including topics and instructors.

Seeing Systems NW Earth Institute

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: May Repair Fair

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 3:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU Cold Cup (with straw).

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

The Repair Fairs are a twice-per-term event that provide free repairs and demonstrations to attendees. What repair skills will be offered at the May Repair Fair?

Categories: Ecologue

Get Your Fix: Repair Fair this Thursday

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 3:00pm

OSU Campus Recycling will be hosting the final Repair Fair of the school year this Thursday, May 22 from 6 – 8 pm. The event will be held at the Recycling Warehouse (644 SW 13th St.)

Bring your broken items and questions and volunteers will help you learn how to repair your things, and attend demos to learn DIY (do it yourself) skills (see list below for what’s on offer this time)! Save money, save natural resources and be part of a culture of DIY and reuse. Free and open to all.

Repair skills offered:
  • Appliances (small items only, please)
  • Bicycles
  • Clothing (hand and machine sewing)
  • Electronics (small items only, please)
  • Housewares (furniture, ceramics, lamps, etc.)
  • Jewelry
  • And more!
Drop-in Demonstrations:

Come by anytime in the scheduled time frame to see a ~5 minute repair demo!

6:15 to 6:45 pm: Upcycling: Renewing Your Furniture - Join Corvallis Furniture as they demonstrate some potential ways to reuse or renew furniture to give it a new purpose. (Leader: Grant Converse from Corvallis Furniture)

Waste Watcher Kyle Knight facilitates a book repair demo at the Feb. Repair Fair. Click to view larger.

6:45 to 7:15 pm: Bicycles: Shifting and Braking Like New – Both braking and shifting systems are controlled by the use of cables. Join the Corvallis Bicycle Collective to learn the proper process of diagnosing and repairing cable problems. (Leaders: Members of the Corvallis Bicycle Collective)

7:15 to 7:45 pm: Those Darned Socks: Fixing Holes – Many times, socks, jackets, and sweaters are working great, until you wear through the toe, elbow, or snag them on something. Darning is a method of fixing holes using only thread, rather than sewing a patch on. Drop by to see how it’s done. (Leader: Kyle Reed, Outreach Assistant for Campus Recycling)

Additional Details Note: We don’t have spare parts, but will do our best to repair what we can and/or refer you to where you could find the parts you need. If you have parts already, we may be able to help you install them. Map to Repair FairDirections: We are located at 644 SW 13th St. in Corvallis; see a map of the entrance and parking here; view our building on Google Maps here. Please enter through the warehouse gate on 13th Street, between A Ave. and the railroad tracks. City buses 3, 6 and 8 stop within 2-4 blocks of our building while routes 1, 5 and 7 stop 6 blocks away at 11th & Monroe (view full details on the Corvallis Transit System website or use Google Transit to find the best option for you). Event on FacebookJoin this event on Facebook. Additional Details

Note: We don’t have spare parts, but will do our best to repair what we can and/or refer you to where you could find the parts you need. If you have parts already, we may be able to help you install them.

Directions: We are located at 644 SW 13th St. in Corvallis; see a map of the entrance and parking here; view our building on Google Maps here. Please enter through the warehouse gate on 13th Street, between A Ave. and the railroad tracks. City buses 36 and 8 stop within 2-4 blocks of our building while routes15 and 7 stop 6 blocks away at 11th & Monroe (view full details on the Corvallis Transit System website or use Google Transit to find the best option for you).

Join this event on Facebook.

Categories: Ecologue

Waste Watchers Spotlight: Andrea Norris

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 8:00am

Name: Andrea Norris

Title/Nickname: Known as Dre in the WW. Marketing & Development Coordinator for Campus Recycling.

Degree: B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife

Year in School:Graduated in 2008

When did you start volunteering with the Waste Watchers?

I’m fortunate enough to be a founding mother! Our volunteer team officially named itself the Waste Watchers in the summer of 2012.

What has been your favorite project or event that the Waste Watchers have been involved in?

I am going to be unoriginal and also say the Repair Fairs as my favorite Waste Watchers project. The Repair Fairs are a response to a throwaway society, planned obsolescence and a culture of consumerism. They seek to replace these traits with a culture of reuse, frugality and human connection. It’s amusing to me that such a simple concept is somewhat countercultural. We’re repair rebels!

What keeps you volunteering with the Waste Watchers?

The people! I look forward to our weekly meetings where we share ideas and enthusiasm. Spending time with others who are passionate about sustainability and waste reduction is what gives me the energy to go on…in my job and in life in general!

What would you like to see the Waste Watchers do in the future?

I would like to see the Waste Watchers develop and deepen connections to other student organizations on campus through events and other partnerships. And while we’re making Waste Watcher wishes, I would one day like to see us be a household name!

What is one way you reduce waste in your everyday life?

I strive to reduce or eliminate packaging, recyclable or not. The majority of my purchases in life are groceries and I avoid packaging by buying mostly whole foods, like grains and nuts in bulk (in reused containers) and fruits and vegetables (in reused produce bags). This means I have needed to prioritize my time to include time for preparing food from scratch. It’s worth it – for my health, my budget and the environment.

Want to learn more about the Waste Watchers? Visit the volunteer webpage to learn more about how to get involved.

Categories: Ecologue

Are Insects the Next Big Food Craze?

Mon, 05/19/2014 - 4:19pm

Oftentimes people look for local organically grown meat, fruits, and vegetables to lower their footprint on our planet. If the United Nations advice is taken to heart we might be seeing insects show up at our local groceries. Why would anyone want to eat insects? Insects have supplemented the diets of people from Latin America, Asia, and Africa for ages and like many things can be considered a delicacy. With a rapidly increasing population we need to address how we will feed the masses nutritionally sound food while not compromising our environment. Could insects help accomplish this goal? Insects are rich in minerals and protein and when comparing Pigs to meal worms we see that pigs produce 10-100 times the amount of greenhouse gas as meal worms per kilogram.  So if you are cruising down the aisles of the grocery and see a dried bag of crickets, I hope to have saved you from the question of “Why would anyone eat that?”

More information can be found at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44886#.U3qIdfldWSo

Categories: Ecologue

Drive Less Save More SouthTown paid internship

Mon, 05/19/2014 - 12:52pm

Cascades West Rideshare, in partnership with the City of Corvallis and Oregon Department of Transportation, is launching a campaign called Drive Less Save More SouthTown to help South Corvallis residents walk, bike, and use transit more often.

Cascades West Rideshare is selecting an intern to serve as an Outreach Ambassador to conduct outreach and administrative tasks for the program. The successful candidate will invite SouthTown residents to participate in the program, respond to questions about transportation to, from, and within the neighborhood, assemble and deliver information packet orders, and identify other opportunities for outreach and partnership.

Basic Details

  • Start Date: June 16, 2014
  • End Date: October 19, 2014
  • Stipend: approximately $850 – $1,050/month DOE
  • Hours:  approximately 16 – 20 hours per week through Sept. 21; potential for increased hours extending to Oct. 19

Applications are due at 5PM Friday, May 23 so don’t delay and apply today!

Categories: Ecologue

Recycling and Composting off Campus

Sun, 05/18/2014 - 12:39pm

With the end of the term coming to a close, many students are thinking about moving off campus for the next academic year. However, since on campus recycling and composting services are provided by UHDS and other sustainability groups and programs, many students are confused about what to do about recycling and composting once they’re settled in their own apartment or home. If students are renting their home, they should first speak to their landlord or landlady about what services are already set in place for them before asking about adding other services they’d like. If there are any services that are not provided for students can then turn to Republic Services. Republic Services provides free recycling and garbage disposal services to Corvallis and surrounding areas. They also provide other services upon request. Students can find out more about what Republic Services has to offer by visiting the Republic Services Website. Republic Services also has a location in Corvallis (110 Northeast Walnut Boulevard Corvallis,OR,97330) where you can recycle metals, oils, electronics, and other materials.

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Travel Grantee: Lexa McAllister

Sat, 05/17/2014 - 11:07am
Lexa McAllister was awarded a $50 SSI Travel Grant to travel to San Francisco, California to attend the Divestment Convergence in April of 2014. She wrote a blog post for the Ecologue to describe her experience. __________________________________________

Students Engaging Tomorrow traveled to San Francisco to attend the Divestment Convergence at San Francisco State University. This convergence was the second (ever) national conference bringing together groups striving for divestment from fossil fuels at their universities. The campaign is fairly new and there are only two handfuls of schools that have successfully divested. This convergence was a successful way to create strong connections between schools in order to make each campaign stronger.

Not only did the convergence focus on why we should divest and how we can do that successfully, but it also focused on ways to view and address climate change as a whole. Here are three large takeaways from the convergence:

1. Essentially, divestment from fossil fuels does not only affect students here at OSU, it affects everyone who lives on this planet. Divestment is not only an environmental justice issue but also a social justice issue. The speakers at the convergence urged us to realize that climate change is an all-encompassing issue that affects everyone from people in developed countries to undeveloped countries.

2. There was an urge to see divestment as a puzzle piece in this large picture that forms sustainability. We need to do everything we can to achieve sustainability and divestment is not the only piece needed.

3. We need to make strong connections and gain a greater respect for others in order to achieve these goals.

I am a firm believer in sustainability, but this convergence really gave me a stronger vision of what sustainability might realistically look like in the future pertaining to divestment and other issues. The convergence inspired a sense of urgency and thoughtful action in order to further our pursuit of sustainable living.

- Lexa McAllister

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Preparing for Move-Out

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 6:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win an OSU ChicoBag.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Every year, OSU holds a donation drive to help divert waste from the landfill when students move out of the Res. Halls. What are the three things that we suggest students do to lighten their load before move-out?

Categories: Ecologue

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