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Akiera Xavina Charles’ Writer Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

July 13, 2016

Visiting writer Akiera Xavina Charles reflects about her Groundation Grenada residency thus far. She writes about this first journey back to Grenada since she left at age five. She also writes about the first events that she hosted as part of her Dreaming Sexuality of Grenadian Women & Girls creative writing series. Akiera is a recipient of the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights.


As the plane skidded down the tarmac, I dreamt of Mexican Avocadoes.

If only Grenada had the creamy

veggie tasting avocadoes I buy in the States.

This tropical, fruity avocado is not cutting it.

Sheesh …

Being in Grenada is very uncomfortable for me.

I feel my privilege everywhere I go. As my mashed up southern drawl meets New York Black millennial slang with a touch of Caribbean somewhere in between, I still feel unable to fully fit in here. Either my too glammed up attire, iphone or my doubled nose piercings give me away as a foreigner or indicate my class.

However, since most Black millennial women in New York typically look like me when it comes to fashion aesthetics, all this unwarranted attention I have gotten feels scary and unnecessary.  Sometimes I feel the eyes of those secondary school girls zoom in on me when I walk pass Andall Shopping Center in Town. Somehow I guess their taking note of my sunglass, shoes, lipstick, demeanor, and face; but still I feel uncomfortable.


subject: What’s Your Nationality 

What this gyal better not be Grenadian. Wow … she cannot be Grenadian, she does not answer back to me when I told her of how hard I want to fuck her and make her cum all over her herself. I made sure to turn around in the bus seat so she could see that I was talking to her, but still no response came from her mouth. This rude ass gyal could not have been Grenadian. How dare she not respond back to me.

Much Love,

Bold Disgusting Man From Bus # 5 to Town


Anyways I felt super awkward presenting about my residency during Yoga/Film Night.

Since all eyes were on me waiting for my magical facilitating skills to come alive. I felt my nervous lips quiver as I read aloud part of Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ short story in Octavia Brood. Once four minutes passed of me still reading aloud from the book, I was sure everyone had lost interest in whatever I was saying. Yet, perhaps my initial facilitating style was to blame, since my readings came off as too teacher-like and  “jargony.” Currently, I am looking for “afro-futurism focused lesson” plans for additional help in simplifying and condensing my material; however, the developing stages for these lessons plans are still a work in progress. In this sense, I thought cultural barriers made it difficult to explain afro-futurism, but as my writing friend from NYC recommended – these writing series should be more interactive and relatable.


subject: Re: Note To Bourgeoisie Black American 

This seems impossible: this writing/memories
series thing. She said that something about
“Af-fruit-or-ism,” but what exactly does that
mean? We Grenadians don’t do those sort of
things. Perhaps she should have gone to
Africa instead to do this writing series.

Grenadian Woman 1


I have been holding my tongue, thus far,
to survive.

Still unfamiliar with Grenada’s law, I fear being that “ignorant, entitled” Black American who is too sensitive about Grenadian sensibilities; too quick
to revolutionize about everything. Sometimes I wonder whether
it’s my place to critique as harshly as I do about
sexual harassment, fat-phobia, colorism and patriarchy in Grenada.
If people are used
to coddling men desires in Grenada
I then don’t know where
exactly my politics would fit in this Island.

While wanting to “licks” every man
who brother me with their “sweet talk” or cast shunning eyes
at dark-skinned sistas, wide-nosed sistas,
nappy hair sistas, fat sistas, masculine centered sistas,
women-loving-sistas and other
sistas who make colonialism
I recognize how my love, pussy and eggs
serves as a passage ways to the U.S., economic and job security and patriarchal dabs (ouch).


subject: Re: Electricity & WaterMummy for the longest I wondered why Grenadians were “bitchy” about turning off their lights. You know already I am fond of brightly lit rooms. Anyhow I over heard someone last week saying that electricity is expensive in Grenada, can you imagine? Shesssh … I miss having bright lights and hot water.Love & Light,


Re: Electricity & WaterAkiera stop sounding like a privileged brat. If you actually paid the electricity bill in NYC, you would not say such things. Expenses are different in Grenada.Love,



subject: Re: Electricity & WaterSo is this why my Grenadian father always get a pass from his responsibilities, like paying for part of my college tuition? Why does he think 60 USD is enough to take care of me every month in the States, especially in NYC? That’s around 162 EC. Idk … how to feel Mummy, I understand he is trying, but Grenadian survival money is a different amount in comparison to the States.Love & Light,



DSC_0643Last week’s writing workshop was the first in the series.

It was actually super chill and spectacular.

Everyone present was warm, kind and extremely fun to be around. Interestingly, moments before setting up for the first session, I was struggling up market hill in Town while carrying four bags full of supplies. Anyhow by the time I got into front of the Priory, I had done sweated out my edges and was blessed with help handing hands from one of the participants. Fortunately, as soon as we set up the space for the workshop more people trickle in. With the backyard location almost feeling like a picture from Solange’s wedding photos, the vibes of the space immediately turned black girl magical. There was so much laughter and smiles in the space that spoke wonders to my kindred spirit. Eventually, introductions led into random conversations about various sexual orientations, asexual desires, lipsticks and Broadway shows. We wrote letters, talked about our least favorite animals, whispered in each other’s ear and wrote responses to how we imagine Grenadian women.

This day was special, magical and peaceful.

FullSizeRender (1)

Re: Mission Fatness Failure in year 4000Ehhh … I though you were going to be fat as a cow, like how your mudtha was. Remember when you last came to Grenada in year 1000 you were “big, big like a whale.” Gyal what happened, I wanted you to be disgusting, obese and ugly, but shessh … those dreams did not come true.xoxo,
Grenadian Woman 2

FullSizeRender (2)

Akiera Xavina Charles
Groundation Grenada Writer-in-Residence

Hailing from the concrete jungle an ocean away in the overly gentrified, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Akiera is a Grenadian born, mango-loving, queer woman.  As a 2015-2016 recipient of the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights, Akiera has been selected by her institution, New York University’s (NYU) Gallatin School of Individualized Study to take part in documenting the dreams, desires, and experiences of women loving women in Grenada. Her research delves into the realms of afro-futurism, magical realism and speculative fiction. Feel free to poke and prod her with questions about creative writing stuff, survival as a queer twenty-something year old, love, sex and any other random ‘destroy white supremacy’ tidbits.

Meet Roopa Kaushik-Brown – Groundation’s Artist-in-Residence

July 9, 2016
Roopa Kaushik-Brown works at the intersection of art, healing and social justice. She is a visual artist, certified pre-natal yoga instructor, doula and a new mom. She is also a licensed attorney and PhD student in Justice and Social Inquiry PhD at the School of Social Transformation (ASU). Roopa will be hosting two very special workshops at Spice Harmony Yoga Studio Grenada this month – “Pre Carnival Yoga Sessions: For Focus, Freedom, Flexibility” and “Healing Through Parenthood”, a two part workshop for new & soon-to-be parents. Find out more & Register

Meet Akiera Xavina Charles – Groundation’s Writer-in-Residence

June 30, 2016


Hailing from the concrete jungle an ocean away in the overly gentrified, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Akiera Xavina Charles, is a Grenadian born, mango-loving, queer woman. She is a 2015-2016 recipient of the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights from her institution New York University (NYU). Through this fellowship Akiera is with Groundation until mid August 2016.

Akiera will be hosting a free workshop series ‘Dreaming Sexuality of Grenadian Women and Girls’, focused on creative writing & conversation. The series starts Wed 6th July 2016. It will be an exploration of the dreams, desires, and experiences of women in Grenada. Akiera is interested in afro-futurism, magical realism and speculative/sci-fi fiction and intends for participants to bask in the sci-fi and Black feminism vibes that are the works of writers, like Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor and many others. 

Interested in participating? Let us know:

Open letter to Max-Arthur Mantle of VISIBLE documentary

May 23, 2016

Dear Max-Arthur Mantle,

You have reached out to a few LGBTQI* people, organizations and allies from Grenada, other Caribbean countries and the diaspora to seek participants for your film. Your intention was to supposedly document our experiences yet disappointingly, many of your interactions in messages and on public platforms such as Facebook have been disrespectful and offensive. On a number of occasions you have reacted unprofessionally to individuals who have not responded the way you wanted or who informed you that they were not interested in being interviewed for your film, VISIBLE: Portraits & Narratives of LGBTQ People of the Caribbean Diaspora.

This is certainly not the biggest issue we have to deal with as LGBTQI* communities, and  while we stand with you in solidarity as a Caribbean person, a gay person, and a human being, it is our responsibility to hold you accountable for the inexcusable levels of arrogance, entitlement and patronization you chose to share with us.

We were appalled when your first point of contact with one of our sisters, was you sending a message asking what her sexuality was.  We were further appalled with your engagement with some of our other colleagues, whom you referred to as “b**ch” and “motherf**kers”. From the onset many of us had only first heard of you via your online messages that lacked warmth, such as “Hi are you LGBTQ?” and your rude demeanour when questioned about your lack of introduction. Some of your responses even amounted to “I’m short on introductions right now” and “Read my page, I’m busy…”.

When you were not getting participants as willingly and quickly as you wanted in Grenada you chose to make a Facebook post on May 18th attempting to publicly shame the Grenadians you had contacted. Instead of being understanding of the many reasons one might not want to be interviewed by you, you diminished our concerns to us not understanding what it means to identify as LGBTQI*. You took an unrelated post by an LGBTQI* activist group referencing “lifestyle choice” to assume that we all think of our sexuality in one way, ultimately misjudging and demonizing us.  As someone coming from the US, you acted callous and irresponsible by further dismissing our concerns by stating “I think the locals are still traumatized by 1983”.

Max-Arthur, we would like to caution you to not take in jest, the seriousness of our history, our attachment to those histories and the ongoing revolutionary fire that burns within all of us. Do not insult our ancestors and the ongoing work that we do, much of which continues to be inspired and fueled by those revolutionary warriors.

You classified our views as “primitive” and dismissively referred to us as “the locals”. You attempted to pass judgement without having one real and substantive conversation with a person in Grenada. Claiming that we are suffering from internalized homophobia because we chose to not be a part of your film is offensive and untrue. When you received push back about your Facebook post you lashed out with comments like “Google me bitch” and you even sent a message to a youth LGBTQ activist saying,

“…come at me! I have a lot of people supporting this project! After all this is a film project. I wouldn’t want you ugly motherfuckers fucking up my shit!”

Do you realize the ways in which you are feeding into the racist, colonial and capitalist tropes where again, our experiences are only deemed valuable once they can be exploited? Is this how we build community across borders?

In the past 24hrs since we have started an online discussion about your actions, colleagues from across the region and diaspora from countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent, the Dominican Republic and Barbados have come forward to voice similar concerns as those shared by us Grenadians. They have shared similar experiences of you being rude, pushy, bullying and also attempting to shame them for their choice – if they decided not to – participate in your film, VISIBLE. Regionally, people did not respond to you with the open arms that you expected. Our reasons are personal, political and our own. Clearly some of us sensed the person you have now publicly exposed yourself to be.

We would advise you to, next time, insert love and compassion into your approach. Our community is tender yet resilient. With trust, care and empathy being core elements of how we live, love and build relationships, we open spaces to have conversations; spaces we see as sacred and valuable in order for us to do the critical movement-building and relationship-building work that we hold dear. We are telling our own stories and we allow people who approach us with love and respect to document our lives as well.

When a journalist or filmmaker starts with the premise that they are “creating a voice” for someone, they are beginning with the false idea of voicelessness. You are not creating a voice for LGBTQI* folk living in the Caribbean or in the diaspora. You are not our storyteller since you are not willing to actually hear us. You’ve also made it clear from various posts, that you do not see yourself as part of our community. You reminded us repeatedly that you live in America. Now you choose to act surprised when the “voiceless” speak out. When they voiced sentiments that countered your own, your response became “I am keeping my ass in America.” It is again made clear that your goal is to exploit our lives and experiences in a way that reinforces geo-political power structures and that denies Caribbean people power and agency.

We hope that those considering funding and supporting your project think twice, as you have not only been unprofessional and disrespectful, but your use of violent language has done great harm to many organizers who continue to put their lives on the line. Your intentions have been made clear and we, members and allies of diverse Caribbean LGBTGI* communities at home and abroad, would like you to know that we condemn the harmful approach you have insisted on taking and your profuse lack of accountability and self-reflexivity despite being called out time and time again.


List of signatories (Alphabetical):


Abiola Clement

Alesia Aird

Alexa D V. Strauss-Hoffmann

Angeline Jackson, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica

Dr. Angelique V. Nixon, Caribbean IRN

Ayisha Sylvester-JohnGroundation Grenada

CAISOTrinidad & Tobago

Caribbean IRN (International Resource Network)

Carla Moore, Non-aligned anti imperialist activist

Castellanos ErikaBelize

Charlot Jeudy, Kouraj

Colour Pink Group

Damarlie AntoineGrenada

Debbie Douglas, Toronto, Canada

Dulce Reyes, Activist, Miami & New York City, United States


Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality

Equals Barbados

GrenCHAP Inc.

Groundation Grenada

Hayden BethelmyGrenCHAP Inc.

House of Aquaria Dominica

Jeremy Steffan Edwards, Founder The Silver Lining Foundation

Jessica St.Rose  Secretary, Board of United and Strong

Joshua ElahieGrenCHAP Inc.

Kadon Douglas, Toronto, Canada

Kenita Placide, Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality

Kerlin CharlesGrenCHAP Inc

Kimalee Phillip, Groundation Grenada .

Kimani ParkeGrenCHAP Inc.

KizzyAnn AbrahamGrenCHAP Inc. & CatchaFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

Dr Krystal Ghisyawan, The Silver Lining Foundation

Lisa Harewood, Filmmaker, Barbados

Lysanne Charles-Arrindell, Alliance For Equality, St. Maarten/St. Martin 

Malaika Brooks-Smith-LoweGroundation Grenada & CatchaFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

Maria Fontenelle

Maureen St.Clair

Maurice Tomlinson

Melissa-Anne Cobbler, Social Worker, Québec

Michael Thomas, GrenCHAP Inc.

Michelle Pascal

Naomi Jackson, Author

René Holder, Equals Barbados

Richie MaitlandGroundation Grenada

Ro-Ann Mohammed B-GLAD

Sakinah Ambrose,  GrenCHAP Inc.

Sean Macleish

Sharon Mottley, Women’s Caucus of Trinidad & Tobago

Soraya Palmer

Saint Kitts Alliance for Equality

Stephanie LeitchFounder/ Co Director, Womantra, Trinidad & Tobago

Stévia P. Arthur

Timmia Hearn, I Am One TnT

Dr. Tonya Hayes, CODE RED for gender justice & CatchaFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

Patrice M. Daniel, Gender justice activist, Barbados

Paula Lindo

Yaneris González Gómez, Activist, Dominican Republic

Zeleca Julien, I Am One TnT


cropped-cropped-cropped-realgroundationlogo1.jpgGroundation Grenada is a social action collective which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the needs of our communities, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth. Our mission is to provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance, building from the local to affect regional and international solidarity and change. We pursue our mission online, through our website and social media, and also through live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists, activists and institutions. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect people who are hungry for innovative change. We are a co-founder of Grenada Community Library & Resource Centre.

Mt. Zion Library Announces Name Change and Temporary Closure of General Library

April 30, 2016

The library becomes Grenada Community Library and moves to the Grenada National Museum building in an effort to continue offering services amidst fundraising challenges

St.George’s, Grenada – The Mt. Zion Library is beginning two major transitions. The first is a name change to Grenada Community Library & Resource Centre in an effort to express greater  inclusiveness about the work we do.  Secondly the library will move to the National Museum Building, in order to cut costs and work towards financial sustainability. In addition we will continue fundraising, while seeking sponsorships and grant opportunities. The General Library  will close temporarily at the end of April 2016 so the collection can be moved  to storage at the Museum. The temporary closure of the general collection allows the library team to reduce costs while it attempts to secure avenues of ongoing financial support. The Children’s collection and activity programs will remain open in current location and move to the Museum at the end of May 2016.

“This library began as a community effort and can only continue through that same spirit,” said Ayisha John, Co-Director of The Grenada Community Library. “We have seen an incredible demand for the resources, programmes and the supportive environment we provide to our members. Grenada needs more of these spaces for learning and creativity, but the only way we can continue to offer this is if we get the support we need to keep our doors open.” The reopening of the general collection will be possible if the library secures sustained funding for operational costs. You can support this effort by making a donation now. Don’t silence the library. You can make a difference by becoming a Friend of the Library, making a donation, hosting a fundraiser or sharing our project with those in your family, church, organization or business who are in a position to donate.

About Grenada Community Library (formally Mt. Zion Library): Grenada Community Library is a collective response to the ongoing closure of the Grenada National Library. Since our conception in 2013 we have been building community through literacy, love and collaboration. In 2014 we opened full time hours. Our focus is on introducing young people to the world of stories, knowledge and confidence building through participation, discussion and critical thinking. In addition, we serve the local business community by providing functional literacy and other basic skills to maximise the employment potential of individuals. Membership is free for all. To learn more visit soon to moving to

Contact us at our current location at the Arnold John Building, St.George’s Grenada
Email us at
Kibi Dickson (473) 457-5725 or Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe (473) 410-5271

Reflections on the Grenadian Revolution: Memories & history, but according to whom?

March 16, 2016

:: by Kimalee Phillip ::

Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter
(Igbo, Nigeria)

One thing is clear; there are multiple stories about what happened and why, when reflecting on the Grenadian revolutionary period of March 13, 1979 to October 19, 1983. When assessing its ongoing impacts, it is evident that there remains a vast array of experiences, many similar, many contradictory and usually the focus centers on events that did and did not take place from October 19 – 25, 1983. The previous four years and more, of Grenadian mobilization and self-sovereignty is usually erased and/or significantly minimized.

The Grenadian Revolution has clearly left an indelible mark on the Grenadian, Caribbean, African and global psyche.  The diverse colours of those memories reflect a rainbow of diverse emotions and in some cases, facts.

The Grenada Country Conference took place from March 8-10, 2016 at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus at Marryshow House, St. George’s. The theme of this historic gathering was, “Perspectives on the Grenada Revolution 1979-83”. Thirty-seven (37) years after the overthrow of Sir Eric Gairy, scholars, activists and others who value social justice, continue to explore and document the “revo” and its ongoing impacts. Yet, the diversity of those narratives that speak to the learnings and trauma experienced during the “revo”, invasion and post-invasion, continue to be dominated by a singular story, “Thank God for U.S. and Caribbean Heroes of Freedom”; a message that is etched and continuously maintained, on a dilapidated building near the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Tempe, St. George’s.


One of things that was made clear at the conference, was that we must remain cautious that many of these important conversations and reflections do not remain within silos of academic spaces, made almost inaccessible to the general public. Thousands of Grenadians were involved in and continue to be impacted by the Grenadian Revolution therefore, it is critical that they play a central role in these post-Revolution conversations.

The other obvious reminder of the Grenadian Revolution is one that usually goes unnoticed in the Grenadian imaginary on a daily basis – those two large white arches near our International Airport which remains one of the longstanding achievements of the “revo”. Though facts state otherwise, the Airport was framed as a military base for communist mobilization and thus used by former US President Ronald Reagan as one of the reasons to “intervene”. The placement of those arches near what has been renamed the Maurice Bishop International Airport, can only be described according to David Scott as, “on the one side, the mocking cynicism of imperial power; on the other, the limp prostration of the absolute defeat of spirit. It is empire’s sneering reward for a people’s audacity” (Scott 2010).


The final marker that I would like to reflect on is our “Thanksgiving” celebrations on October 25. The purpose of this national public holiday is to mirror the invasion of 1983. “

Bloody Sunday”, “Bloody Monday”, March 13, October 19 and other key historical dates are barely recognized by the state, much less given public holiday status. What message is the government sending to the populace when it chooses to erase the significance of the days aforementioned, days upon which the people of Grenada decided to take change into their own hands and the state chose to respond in violent and repressive ways such as the killing of Maurice Bishop’s father on “Bloody Monday” and the shooting at and beating of Bishop, Unison Whiteman and Selwyn Strachan just one day prior, on “Bloody Sunday”?

What is allowed to remain, how it is remembered and the placement of sites of memory is important in understanding the intended purpose of a monument, piece of art, plaque or any other tangible embodiment of memory.

How is it that such a diversity of complementary and contradicting stories surrounding the Grenadian Revolution, have become sanitized and reduced to mainly one, further instilled by the national holiday on October 25 –  “Papa Reagan” and other invading forces, have come to save the day! This truly begs the question, whose memories are we remembering and for what purpose?

Remembering i.e. memory and its representation as illustrated by Edward Said, “touch significantly upon questions of identity, of nationalism, of power and authority. Far from being a neutral exercise in facts and basic truths, the study of history, which is the underpinning of memory, both in school and university, is to some considerable extent a nationalist effort premised on the need to construct a desirable loyalty to and insider’s understanding of one’s country, tradition, and faith” (Said 2000, 176). Therefore, examples such as the selected CXC curriculum that reduces the “revo” and the US invasion to “The US in the Caribbean” and the language, narratives and representation of the “revo” and subsequent invasion/ ‘intervention’ are made obvious. The shaping of memories are very much a part of how we see ourselves as it is a part of how we are seen by others.

We should be proud of our history! We are not the first set of people to make mistakes when attempting to engage in transformative change, particularly when that change attacks the longstanding foothold of global systems of power such as capitalism, colonialism and white supremacy. However, we are definitely the first anglo-speaking, predominantly African-Caribbean nation to decide that only we, can change our fate and we did. We are admired and if not admired, at the very least researched, by so many Caribbean and other non-Grenadian people; why do we not feel that pride?

We must also learn to deal with dissent. If one thing is clear, as humans we struggle with power and dissent and end up marginalizing the very people that we claim to love and to be fighting for. We must find healthy and accountable ways of respecting and integrating difference otherwise we run the risk of turning real and metaphorical guns against the people.

Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves in the Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation (GREMFO) and Groundation Grenada’s annual March 13th Lecture, spoke to a packed audience at the Trade Centre. He left us with a few questions, one of which asked us to reflect on the types of political and economic systems that would be appropriate for the Caribbean context. One thing is clear from the Grenadian Revolution and I would also argue, from current day happenings, is that we need to be cautious in adapting political and economic systems, not created by us and the essence of which, is actually to ensure our continued demise. Is capitalism ours? Is socialism ours? Is communism ours? What can a Grenadian-responsive system of economic and political transformation look like? In the words of poet June Jordan, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, but to secure change, we must believe that and move beyond what we’ve become so used to.

We need to erect spaces, monuments and visuals such as billboards etc. and write our own truths to power in ways that reflect our own stories, experiences and memories. We must be the ones to narrate those reflections, criticisms and affirmations. To those who fought, sacrificed and died for what they imagined to be a better Grenada, we thank you, we see and we will remember always. Forward ever, backward never! Long live the spirit of Grenadians and the Grenadian Revolution!

“I feel my ancestors in my blood.I am a body of people who are asking not to be forgotten” 

– @beingupile


Kimalee Phillip Groundation Grenada Editor & Project Coordinator Kimalee Phillip
Co-Director & Project Coordinator

Kimalee Phillip is African-Grenadian women currently based out of Toronto. She is an educator, organizer, consultant and writer who specializes in the fields of legal studies, workers’ rights, gender-based and sexualized violence, anti-colonial, anti-racist pedagogies and organizational development. She has conducted qualitative and participatory research and has created and facilitated various workshops, curriculum and learning spaces across Canada, Ghana, Jamaica and Grenada. She holds an MA in Legal Studies from Carleton University and is completing a certificate in Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Management at Ryerson University. Twitter @KimaleePhillip

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