Imaginary Life

The power of informal networks.

Lighthouse Relief volunteers, Joanna Ågren and Jonny Bradford, have really proved that a few determined people can make a massive difference to so many. They have helped move 48 people out of refugee camps and into apartments to begin a new life. For every social media post, the informal network raised up to 20,000 SEK that went directly to buy provisions for refugees, mostly via the mobile app Swish in Sweden.

See the Facebook page in Swedish, and the blog, in English. Their testimony shows how much of the help in Greece actually came from independent volunteers – private individuals mobilising themselves, without any formal help. These volunteers took it upon themselves to go to Greece, often not knowing what they can do to help until they arrive and meet other volunteers on the ground (including the refugees). In addition, the response of the local Greek population is very moving.

The official refugee camps were not humane places, not well equipped. They are lacking in food, supplies, amenities, not to mention medical care. They are policed and fenced in, and many of the refugees fear being imprisoned indefinitely in these camps.

While governments in Europe spend extraordinary amounts erecting fences along their national boundaries, not one government penny has been spent helping the refugees flee war-torn Syria and Iraq. Not one penny on food and supplies in Idomeni or the shores of Lesbos. Even worse, our governments’ response has been to add to the challenges the refugees face, blocking them from applying for asylum- which, until very recently, was deemed to be a very basic human right.

The blanket decision to demote and declassify all non Syrian and Iraqi nationals to “migrant” status (as opposed to refugee) blatantly ignores all the international humanitarian laws and mandates that have been set up since the second world war. This is not a “refugee” crisis, but a crisis of neglect, an ethical crisis. The inability of the EU to respond rationally, with problem-solving solutions and long-term planning, is only increasing the crisis incrementally by the day.

How many days can a person go without adequate food and shelter? The official hotspot camps set up by the military are full to bursting. At the same time, Jonny and Joanna estimated that around 40 percent of the refugees they saw in the camps in Greece (official and unofficial) are children under the age of 12.

This week’s blog post is the story of one family’s journey from Syria, written by a refugee, Mohammed Abdi, who helped Joanna and Jonny translate at Idomeni. I urge you to spend 5 minutes reading it. May his testimony serve to dispel any doubt you may have in your mind about the urgency of the crisis, and the responsibility the international community has to avoid an atrocity of wilful neglect.

Thanks for reading.

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Ice Circle, a new Nordic snow and ice network

Imaginary Life recently was invited up to the Artic circle by artist Laila Kolostyak to help organise a seminar and workshop for over 20 selected snow and ice professionals from Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The seminar was funded by Kulturkontakt Nord and the Norwegian Barents Secretariat and aimed to explore how Snow and Ice professionals can raise the profile of their work, as well as collaborate and share knowledge across borders on how to drive successful projects of all scales; from installations in nature parks, to interior and architectural design, to urban planning and urban reclamation and festival planning.

Keynote speakers included leading professionals such as Timo Jokela from the University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, known decades of spectacular land art, Jens Toms Ivarsson, Design Director at the world-famous ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden and Ole Morten Rokvam, an artist and craftsman who has curated leading events with snow and ice in Norway for over a decade. In addition, the artists from Kirovsk and Murmansk were exceptionally inspiring, sharing their festival and community work and bringing a lot of love and live music.

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We spoke with Jens Thoms Ivarsson:

We were discussing the ‘eternal ephemerality’ or ice. Is that something Design can learn from?

Absolutely. Imagine: the earth was created at some point, some billions of years ago. The water we are working with could have come from a comet- its ancient and essential stuff. Two different materials met and collided, basically stone and water. They became a frozen moment. Hot lava froze into stone, and water turned into ice. It’s this moment of change that artists and designers often explore in the materials and contexts they work with. Moments of change. Tipping points. How materials age next together. How they behave. It’s fundamental stuff, but ice also teaches us about the nature of continuous change. The seasons, nature’s needs, human needs in winter climates, and of course, climate change. These are new frontiers for design in general. We always think about the negative aspects of snow and ice, how to get rid of it, how to avoid it. We’ve hardly scratched the surface of how to use it as a material.

How long is something ephemeral?

It’s a good question. It all depends on the point of view, the objectives of a project. We follow the melting process of the ICEHOTEL too- it is so beautiful. We spend so long making details, crafting interiors and design elements –always knowing it will melt and return to the river again. And during the process, the sound changes in the building, the atmosphere is fantastic. It’s not sad- its liberating. The ice hotel doesn’t collapse, it opens up in the centre to reveal the sky and the surroundings of the place where it started. There is so much new knowledge to be gained about snow and ice.

But there is a high risk of making mistakes working with such a volatile material?

Yes – but the volatility also opens possibilities. Designers always ask “How do I avoid mistakes?” Ernst Billgren’s book ‘Vad är Konst 2′ (What is art 2) says that the short answer is to sit very still! As soon as humans do something there are mistakes, but mistakes also lead to discoveries. All our genetic development and success is built on learning from mistakes. When I work in stone or concrete and it is placed in city, there is a lot of pressure as the object will lasts for a lifetime. Working in snow and ice is very freeing in a way. You can be more brave and experimental. Less self conscious and more playful.

How do you work with seasons of water and light at the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi?

You’d think it all happens in the winter as the focus is on ice art but we are moving to all year round. In the summer there is rafting, fishing and other nature activities and the phenomenon of the sun never setting at night- that is a very special experience to have. Also we are preparing for the water to freeze long before it does. It’s the pivotal moment for us, as we invite artists from all over the world. And those artists are not all traditional ice sculptors. We work with people from all background to explore what they can create with ice as a material.

We can also funnel water from the river, and blow it through snow canons to create a material we call “snice” –manufactured snow. We can throw snow onto moulds. Sometimes we use reinforcement to create very large structures. We are also learning more ever year about how to use ice reinforcement. The old way is to create giant moulds for architectural structures where the walls are built with plywood moulds and filled with snice, much like the process for creating concrete buildings. By exploring ice reinforcement we open new doors to resourceful innovation in architecture.

How many people are involved in constructing the ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi every year?

At the ICEHOTEL we have a team of over 50 people who work on the structure alone. Then there is all the finishing work on interior design, lighting and so on. Tools and methods are developing all the time and its important to share this knowledge.
Focus on working together is important – the joy comes when it is finished! One of the hardest jobs is being on roof in minus 35 connecting wires without gloves. It’s the engineers, technicians and ice workers we really have to thank! They make these ideas possible.

What other type of work do you do there?

One example is that we send ice and snice all over world- and send our engineers to make large events possible. For examples we created a catwalk for Chanel at the Grand Palais in Paris. We needed to install a cooling system for the 40 m long 8 m high catwalk. Karl Lagerfeld ordered it. We had to tell him not to wear boots not to get wet. He was great fun to work for. We asked him to lick the ice and he obliged!

One of my favourite projects that you showed at the seminar was the roundabout you made in a lake.

Yes, we cut out a huge disc in the river and added a boat engine. It was a simple intervention to see if the disc would rotate – and it did! It rotated at a perfectly even speed. It worked out better than we anticipated it would. Nature is like that.

Light is a resource

Back from London and the Photon Symposium, and seeing the prototype of an all glass living pod that will be one of 9 pods in a proposed Photon Village at Oxford University. The concept was conceived by Brent Richards of Transpolis Europe and executed by Cantifix, an advanced glass engineering company based in the UK.

Brent Richards describes the project: The Photon Pod has been designed to maximise daylight for the inhabitants in order to carry out scientific research into “the effects of daylight on human biology”. The 4 year research period will involve 8 Photon Pods and allow 300 participants to be tested in a Photon Village. As a control two of the pods will be “dark” with only 12% of the surface transparent, which equates to the average amount of glazing in a typical home.

The shape of the Photon Pod has been designed to minimise the reflection of light waves by keeping the surface of the glass perpendicular to the sun when the building is orientated north/south. The make-up of the double glazed units uses the latest technology to increase the insulation properties, whilst reducing solar gain to maintain a comfortable living environment in most climates.

The interior facilities were considered in relation to the length of stay for each participant and the fact we didn’t want the research data to be influenced. In the majority of cases a participant will only have to stay for 3 weeks and therefore basic facilities of a kitchen; shower and WC; bed; desk; and seating area were considered sufficient.

Philips were invited by Imaginary Life to design the lighting in the Pod to show how a combination of natural and design light should be combined to enhance the wellbeing and to harmonise the practical need for artificial light with the biological need for natural light. For the purposes of this launch, Hue, Philips connected lighting was programmed to create a compelling and dynamic experience, as well as enhancing the architecture of the innovative structure.

Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford University states: “The recent advances in our understanding of the brain mechanisms that generate and regulate sleep and circadian rhythms, and a growing appreciation of the broad health problems associated with their disruption, represents a truly remarkable opportunity to develop novel evidence-based treatments and interventions that will transform the health and quality of life of millions of individuals across a broad spectrum of illnesses.”

The Photon Pod is a means for collecting data on how light effects the mind, body & soul. Photos by George Sharman.

The Photon Pod is a means for collecting data on how light effects the mind, body & soul. Photos by George Sharman.

The Photon Pod Installation at The Building Cente, London.

The Photon Pod Installation at The Building Cente, London.

Light is a resource for health & wellbeing - in all built environments

Light is a resource for health & wellbeing – in all built environments

 

The Photon Project at London Design Festival

If you happen to be in London on Monday 16th September, or Tuesday the 17th September, drop by and meet us at the Building Centre on Store Street, W1. The Photon symposium invites international scientists, academics, architects, designers and global corporations to join The Photon Project network to debate the link between daylight and science, technology, health, wellbeing, architecture and design.

Moderated by Peter Finch of the UK Design Council, the Symposium includes keynote speakers such as Sean Carney, Chief Design Officer at Royal Philips Electronics.

Store street installation. http://thephotonproject.org/

Store street installation. http://thephotonproject.org/

Philips have also designed a dynamic lighting programme in the Building centre itself and for a glass ‘Photon Pod’ installation out in the courtyard to showcase latest lighting products that front ongoing deeper research and innovation within lighting for increased Health and Wellbeing for built environments such as Hospitals and Schools, to name but a few.

The Photon Project will present a 4 year plan and concept for an advanced integrated scientific research project. The multifaceted proposal works with systems thinking and rapid innovation models to explore and bring to market future Health and Wellbeing applications- also creating new standards and solutions for Healthy Living.

The aim of the project is to ultimately improve the living and working conditions of millions of people across the globe by testing and measuring the biological advantages of increasing the amount of daylight in all types of buildings: residential, commercial, institutional, educational, cultural and leisure.

Current research, for example, has already proven that disruption to circadian rhythms causes a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing – over a short period this would typically lead to depression, nausea and high blood pressure, and over a longer period this can lead to chronic depression and secondary hypertension. There is also evidence that the lack of sleep caused by an inability to reset the body clock can have a critical impact on: schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, some cancers and a long list of other life threatening conditions. As a research area, light has unlimited possibilities to help develop solutions that prevent disease and help the body in recovery.

The Photon Living Concept was initiated by Architect and Innovation Strategist Brent Richards in association with Cantifix Ltd. –a market-leading specialist glazing company. The research team is led by Professor Russell Foster, British Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Oxford University. He and his team are credited with the discovery of non-rod, noncone, photosensitive ganglion cells in the mammalian retina – which provide input to the circadian rhythm system.

For more information please mail us on: info@imaginarylife.net

Schedule: PHOTON SYMPOSIUM @ LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL 2013.
Address: The Building Centre, Store Street, London WC1E 7BT

Press:
16 Sept – PRESS LAUNCH (10.30 – 1.00) AT THE BOARDROOM
08.00 -1.00 PHOTON POD TOURS
16 Sept – DAY 1 SYMPOSIUM (1.30 – 6.00, 6.45 – 9.00) VINCENT
SUITE + MAIN GALLERY
08.00 -1.00 Press visits to Photon Pod can be booked, with guide who will be present fulltime at the Pod to answer basic questions and give a tour of the Pod.
Contact: Fiona Sharman <Fiona@Cantifix.co.uk>

17 Sept – DAY 2 SYMPOSIUM (1.00 – 4.30, 5.00 – 7.00)
VINCENT SUITE + Café
——————————————————————————————–
DAY 1: 16 September 2013.
Symposium.
10.30 -11.00
The Photon Project: Pioneering Healthy Living through Light.
Presented by Charlie Sharman, MD Cantifix and Brent Richards,
Director, Transpolis Global.
10.00-11.00: Living Under Glass: Presenting the Photon
Research at Oxford University. Present the project and future plans. Purpose of Symposium is to discuss the design implications of light in relation the living environment- and future policy making e.g. space light standards, RIBA lobbying for light space factors to be included in design of future housing.
Press Q & A with Brent Richards and Charlie Sharman.

SYMPOSIUM:
Theme 1: Daylight + Health & Well Being
Moderator: Paul Finch, Deputy Chair of the Design Council UK
1.40 – 1.45 KEYNOTE INTRO: Paul Finch; Deputy Chair of Design
Council Editorial Director Architects Journal. ON HEALTH &
WELLBEING
Presenters:
(1) 1.45 – 2.05: Research into Human Factors within Health &
Wellbeing (title to follow)
Prof Dr Steve Lockley
Harvard Medical School Boston USA
(2) 2.05 – 2.25: On Crowd-sourcing Grand Designs Solutions (Final Title to follow)
Mike Roberts: CEO HAB Housing (Kevin McCloud, MD, Grand Designs)
Bristol UK
(3) 2.25 – 2.45: On Human Interaction and the Importance of Light
(Final Title to follow)
Prof Dr Marilyne Andersen
EPFL Lausanne Switzerland

Break & Refreshments.

Theme 2 – Daylight + Science & Technology
Presenters:
(4) 3.30 – 3.50: On The Technology of Glass (Final title to follow)
Tim MacFarlane : Glass UK
(5) 3.50 – 3.10: On Nanotechnology and Glass (Final title to follow)
Dr Martin Kemp : NanoKTN
(6) 4.10 – 4.30 On Developing light with space in the building industry. Carbon neutral housing and applications for integrated sustainability. (Final title to follow)
Paul Hicks: Velux GB

Round Table: Health and Science – the facts, the technology, the ideas and the potential.
4.45 – 5.45 All Presenters Chaired by Paul Finch
5.45 – 6.15 Q&A + Summary for Day 1 Symposium
——————————————————————————————–
DAY 2 ~ 17th September
NO PRESS ON THIS DAY- for a broader design audience.
Theme 3 – Daylight + Architecture & Design
Moderator : Paul Finch
1.00-1.15 Intro: The Photon Project: Implications for all types of design, the Plans and the Potential.
Charlie Sharman : MD Cantifix & Brent Richards, Transpolis.

(7) 1.15 – 1.35 On the architecture of light (Final title to follow)
John Pawson
JPStudio
(8) 1.35 – 1.55 On making better architecture. (Final title to follow)
Dikon Robinson CEO
Living Architecture http://www.living-architecture.co.uk/
(9) 1.55 – 2.25 The Science of Design
Sean Carney
Chief Design Officer /Senior Vice President Philips

20 mins: Break and refreshments

MAIN SYMPOSIUM Round Table: How can Design facilitate Science?
(Recommended for editorial press)
(x 9 no. participants)
2.30 – 4.00
– All Presenters + Chair Paul Finch
– Rebecca Roberts-Hughes: RIBA Policy Unit
– Mike Roberts: HAB Housing
– Prof Dr Marilyne: Andersen EPFL
– Brent Richards : Transpolis Global
– Charlie Sharman : Cantifix
– Dr Heather Berlin*: Cognitive Scientist
– Prof. Debra Skene*: Center for Chronobiology
– Danny Lane: American Glass Artist based in UK
(NB:* Roundtable participants to be confirmed)

4.00 – 4.30 Q&A
4.30: Summary of both days.
5.00 – End of Photon Symposium
Mingle in the Building Centre Exhibition Area.
——————————————————————————–

A remarkable man

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G.I. Gurdjieff brought to the modern world a profound teaching offering the potential of a conscious awakening to one’s individual possibilities. Below is an extract from the 1979 film ‘Meetings with remarkable men’, by Peter Brook, based on Gudjieff’s book with the same title, which is the second book of his trilogy: “All and Everything”.
It tells of the spiritual journey of G.I. Gurdjieff from his childhood until his discovery of ‘The Fourth Way’, an ancient spiritual tradition that uses sacred movements as meditation. Don’t be put off: The mystic G.I. Gurdjieff was driven by a sense of unwavering dedication to unraveling the meaning of human existence, moving him to travel throughout the East, encountering Hindu fakirs, Buddhist monks, whirling dervishes, and gurus of every kind, and his storytelling is intelligent and humourous at the very least. He climbs the Himalayas, walks across the desert on stilts, and uncovers evidence of an ancient order, the guards of an arcane wisdom. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the form of dance he created as a form of meditation and later taught in the West. Watch the film or read the book, both are moving accounts of what it really means to be human.

Gurdjieff Sacred Dances Demo with Niten and Sacred Dancers at 2nd International Asia Conference (IAC)

Part 1 of the series is a book called “Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.” An amazon reader claims that the book “gives us a choice to remain the automatons we are, or to take a step into realizing our potential as conscious beings. It is one of the most important books…ever.”
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Design for life

Many thanks to Designboost 2009

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“It is hard to listen what the technology can do if one does not know what the technology is capable of. We should not segregate geeks from creatives. We need to percolate the programmers, information architects, interactive designers and UI designers together with the graphic designers, art directors and copywriters, from product design across all aspect of ‘communications.’ Technology, design, and brands, are tools for people, not vice versa. Most of today’s marketing communications is nothing more than a time-bandit; It steals our time, so we had better make it give us some genuine value in return.”
Jari Ullakko, Creative director.

“Design for life is evolving to be genuinely sustainable design with the total life cycle in mind. Overall accountability will soon be a necessity, and companies will no longer win sustainability awards for white paper CSR preparedness. In this way, there is a desperate need for cross disciplinary sustainable thinking to be accessible and applicable through a clearly defined set of process tools, right from the early stages of product development, through to smart customer and vendor loyalty strategies.”
Uffe Ljungberg, Risk analyst and Quality control.

“Design for life? It is a friend who accompanies you everyday, that might be able to help you, comfort you, and let you be who you are. Design for life is the design of the connections and interactions between people, and between people, places and things, that creates a positive feeling every time you meet it. Quite simply, design for life simplifies or improves, humanizes and personalizes the experience of everyday life. It is the ultimate expression of humanity.”
Catja Löfgren, Creative strategy and Insights.

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Sign for the infamous bar on Erstagatan, Stockholm.

“Life is an unrepeatable disappearing thing, and design needs to enter the same space. Newness should not be defined in terms of novelty or market niche but in terms of the drama of this disappearance and unrepeatability, colour-coded with compassion and naturalness. I am a Buddhist monk flipping rhythmically between the forest and the cosmopolis. I am designing all the time.”
Tenzin Shenyen, Writer and Monk.

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“Don’t worry about destinations, practice arriving well. /Both the express train and local train arrive on time. /Carry a drop of water to the ocean; wash it clean. / A pattern of drops on my son’s back where he can’t reach. / Nothing exists, and everything proves it. / Freedom is the ability to do anything, not merely what I want. / Pluck a petal and leave the flower whole. / Open hands: giving/receiving. / We can wake the miracle that sleeps within each moment. / There is a sort of kindness that needs me to not do much. / Design for Life = doing enough.”
Jerry Gordon, Teacher and Improviser.

“I don’t want to live in a Wall-e world. I want to say to all the CEOs of all the companies that you must put the earth first and not just your wallet.”
Alexander Ljungberg-Perme, Student. Age 12.

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Designboost entrance 2009, Malmö

“Today, everyone expects design to be good. And so design must develop to be more and more about layers of experience, than just the aesthetic result of an isolated object. Increasingly we see that the advertising budget is being spent on designing enabling tools and overlapping interfaces on and offline. Brands will focus on value adding services – and we will see more ideas like ‘Nike+’, where you choose to use a brand long term because of the intelligence it adds to your life, human and technological. We will see more sincerity and transparency because there is no other way.”
Anders Davén, Digital concept architect.

“Imagine that designers, together with their clients and other partners, manage to create truly beneficial products and services that are seamlessly intrinsic to our lives. Then imagine our society having to rely only on branded services to deliver basic healthcare and infrastructure, but with a disclaimer: break the ‘terms and conditions’ and you are out. Responsibility, integrity and genuine value beyond CSR messaging is a discussion taking place in the digital realm right now. Corporate social integration will extend to all areas of life at the pace we extend the term design and what it should provide. My logic: The better you deliver – the greater the responsibility. What are we doing when create ’excellence’? What are we really achieving when we enter the political space of social responsibility?”
Johan Hjerpe, Concept director.

“I believe that design shapes our collective memories, it speaks about who we are as a community, what we value in our everyday experiences and our dreams. I don’t believe in exclusivity in design, nor fashion. I believe in emotional design. We create reality for ourselves, every minute, every day. And it is our duty as designers, artists, and workers of all kinds to make this world an inspiring environment that encourages life itself to thrive.”
Pavel Fiorentino, Photographer and Journalist.

“Design For Life is ‘The Anatomy of IS.’ It is an existential template that develops and guides our everyday work helping us to interpret what is happening around us. Designing life is an act in the present. The future is a cacophony of could, should, would, will, won’t, might and on and on. Design for Life is doing what you can within the present moment that you inhabit.”
Michael J. Salovaara, Teacher and Poet.

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“Last time I stayed in a hotel and I turned the shower on, somebody had pointed the shower head towards the wall ensuring I didn’t get a cold morning shock in a new place. 
A nice but well thought out gesture. In a similar way Design for Life is about putting the user needs at the forefront of the creative process to integrate possible future living in the design concept. Some would rightly argue that has always been the design mantra, but increasingly, there is a playful element to the concept reaching beyond functionality and aesthetics, because Design for Life is conceived from and for people.”
Jonas Andersen, Trends analyst.

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“Design for Life is a paradigm shift that has already happened. We are living in critical and exciting times where we have the possibility to shape more meaningful collaborative platforms that will focus on realizing visions rather than just launching isolated products and fragmented messages. These will be provided by the sources we trust and choose – the people in our lives who we interact with on a daily level.”
Tanya Kim Grassley, Brand development strategist.

Everyday Joy in Stockholm

Would more people take the stairs if it was more fun? Turns out, 66% more people choose the stairs versus the escalator when it makes noise. Or use the trash can if it was more fun? Joy can change everyday behavior. Thanks to Chad for the tip and VW for the project. See more on rolighetsteorin.se

The world’s deepest trash can….

Anti-Greenwashing app

Startup Fights Greenwashing With Data Sent to Your Phone, reports wired.com. The Good Guide promises to put hard numbers to put hard facts to companies’ health and environmental claims about their products. Spun out of Berkeley’s Sustainability Information Lab and funded by prominent venture capital firms, GoodGuide plans to provide free, scientist-vetted data about the things you buy.

“I think there’s a burgeoning awareness that there is a global supply chain behind a product,” Dara O’Rourke, GoodGuide’s founder and a Berkeley professor, told Wired.com. “People are seeing that there are real costs to these everyday low prices. The question is, can we deliver this information in a way that is simple and easy and helps people make decisions?”

There were some surprising facts on the app too- products one would expect to score high didnt and many of those you would expect to be less environmentally friendly faired better. Hopefully consumers will flock to the Good Guide and help them cure any blips in the beta version. A hard facts index on a company’s total performance would also not go amiss… all in all a great initiative for the conscious consumer….check out more info on their site.

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