Bay Area Green Tours Mission Bay Area Green Tours 501(c)3 provides educational tours and events that demonstrate the sustainable economy in action, i

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Bay Area Green Tours Mission

Bay Area Green Tours 501(c)3 provides educational tours and events that demonstrate the sustainable economy in action, inspire support of local green businesses, and empower people to incorporate environmental responsibility and social justice into their personal and professional lives.

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Learning about the construction of the Strawbale House at the Berkeley Marina

I hear, and I forget
I see, and I remember
I do, and I understand.

—Ancient Chinese proverb

Learning from Experience!


Once I stepped foot into the world of education, I never looked back. From teaching at a farm school in Vermont where we grew and cooked our own food, to teaching in rural Appalachia and Alabama, the one constant that remains throughout my endeavors has been: experiential education. The knowledge that I have best grasped, accumulated and retained came from firsthand learning. As an educator I have found that this holds true for others as well.
After receiving my M.A. in Education my first exposure to a classroom was teaching 6th grade in tiny, rural Coolville, Ohio.

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My 6th Grade Class


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I thought that the interaction between the students and their living history of their hometown was an exciting integration of oral history and local culture into their curriculum. Using the impoverished Athens County’s only huge video camera in the late 1970’s my students documented the stories of town citizens sharing anecdotes of simpler times. The students divided into small video crews and interviewed members of their community who had lived lives of long-established traditions that were reflective of a more historical time. Ina May Putnam’s grandmother showed us how to make soap, we went to one student's uncle’s sorghum mill, watched a neighbor extract honey, looked for ancestors in the old graveyard and made tombstone rubbings. Agnes Hill, a very elderly woman born in the late 1800’s walked us through the six-building “downtown” past the long-shuttered General Store and then gifted us each with the "History of Coolville, Ohio: 1818-1968" book with old photographs of the town for each of student!

One unforgettable morning two elderly coal miners (survivors of the Millfield Mining Disaster which killed 82 men) came to our classroom with their picks and headlamps to share the story of that tragedy. The students sat spell-bound listening how one had rescued the other, and then wound up losing part of his arm. Another day Black Raven, a local Native American visited our class and we learned about his tribes’ local history. We even camped out with him one night, cooking and consuming his native foods and listening to his stories around the campfire. We arose to his chanting at sunrise!

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I could tell these kids had experienced something that would truly stick with them for the rest of their lives. And that’s what I try to do now with Bay Area Green Tours and are especially excited about our recent work with Y Plan.

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Skyline Students at Kaiser Rooftop Garden

Experiential Education

BAGT has recently partnered with UC Berkeley’s Y-Plan (Youth, Plan, Learn, Act, Now!) which is a prime example of the effectiveness of a community engagement model for experiential learning, as the program works to involve students in the process of city planning and policy making.
This past year we’ve co-produced tours with Skyline and Berkeley High School’s Green Academy that examined local sustainability in urban design where they explored models in San Francisco, Fruitvale, Berkeley and Oakland. The project-based learning allows students to engage with community leaders as they learn first-hand about urban revitalization and visit the sites with a focus on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon pollution and resiliency. Together we use this immersive method of learning not only to build students’ knowledge of their own community, but to offer students the opportunity to explore potential career opportunities first-hand and work on concrete design projects that they then bring back to present to the community and actually use. Just as students benefit from Y-Plan, so do their communities. Recently I had the pleasure of watching students present their recommendations to AC Transit and at Oakland City Hall on how to plan for a better community.

Please follow us on social media so you can to learn about all the great things going on in the Bay Area and join us virtually on our tours and we love to share great events and local resources happening!



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Daniel Hamilton, Oakland City Sustainability Program Manager at SPUR

Y Plan & Skyline HS, Oakland

Urban Inspiration Tour:

On February 23rd we joined Y-Plan and Skyline High School’s Green Academy 99 senior and sophomore students where the guiding question was "How can greenhouse gas emissions be limited through planning a smarter downtown Oakland?" We kicked off the morning at “SPUR's” newest office in Downtown Oakland where Laura Tam, Oakland Project Manager, spoke to us about good urban planning. Daniel Hamilton, Oakland City Sustainability Program Manager provided ideas for potential green-career paths and the impressive work Oakland is doing to mitigate and adapt to the challenges presented by climate change.
The students broke into small groups to map out creative ideas for the Latham Square development across the street and after brainstorming, the students presented their ideas. A rep from Oakland Central shared the “greening of Oakland’s downtown streets where he pointed out planters, new bike racks, compactable solar trash bins, and other enhancements on our way to our next stop: The PORT, a co-working space in the old Kaiser mall by Lake Merritt. We saw shipping container conference spaces, repurposed building materials and their rooftop space complete with Tiki Bar! In the BART board room we met Robert Raburn, a BART Board of Director and he shared the latest plans for improved energy efficiency and services for the growing Bay Area population. Afterwards we learned a bit about Kaiser history and enjoyed our lunch on the Kaiser Building’s public roof top garden and at Snow Park across the street.

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The Port Co-Working Space, Oakland

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Mapping Latham Square

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Kaiser Rooftop Garden

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Robert Raburn, BART Board of Director

After lunch, we split into two groups: the seniors went to Lake Merritt to meet with Grey Kolevzon , OUSD Garden Education Coordinator, to learn about resiliency and sea level rising and to observe the connection of Lake Merritt to the Bay and how it affects sea level rise. It was a fantastic setting to time travel with Grey back to a time before Lake Merritt was a destination leading to the current restoration projects. From natural to man made, we learned how bio-swales help regenerate and mimic the original natural systems. As we made our way to the estuary channel we learned how economics play a major role on the history of the lake and the current and future restoration of Lake Merritt. We walked along the channel where Grey pointed out birds resting, nesting, and feeding on the biodiversity of the area.
We then made our way to Oakland’s Embarcadero where Frank Flores shared different factors to consider in the designing and construction of Brooklyn Basin where 4,000 people are slated to live in the near future! Then a short drive east to beautiful Bay Farm Island where Maggie Wegner from the Adaptive Rising Tides Program shared information on sea level rising in San Francisco Bay. This led to a dialogue about green efforts to mitigate damage to those ecosystems and communities effected locally and globally.

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Estuary Near Laney College

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Brooklyn Basin

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Brooklyn Basin

The sophomores walked to Powerhouse, a nonprofit social enterprise energy incubator (funded by Sungevity) where solar experts from Center for Sustainable Energy, work with policymakers, regulators, public agencies and businesses drive the adoption of clean, sustainable energy solutions. CSE has facilitated 44,000 energy projects for consumers, businesses and governments around the world. Paul Hernandez Energy and Transportation Policy Manager engaged the group in a discussion about the “smart grid,” the elimination of fossil fuels through energy efficient batteries, electric vehicles (EVs), and how solar farms work. Back at Skyline High School, Scott Wentworth, Oakland’s City Energy Engineer met us under the parking lot solar panels and explained how this specific system works. He was especially invested since he was a Skyline graduate! It was truly an insightful day with lots of wonderful ideas being shared that might inspire a young person to a future in the green industry to conservation awareness.

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What About Sea Level Rising?

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Scott Wentworth- at his Alma Mater Skyline HS

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Wetlands near Oakland Airport


Sir Francis Drake High School, San Rafael

Green Building Tour

On Thursday, February 25th, we met freshman and sophomores from Sir Francis Drake High to take them on a Green Building Tour. First we visited “The Boathouse,” a magical creation of environmental genius! Built by husband and wife architects, Cate Leger and Karl Wanaselja, they poured their passion into every aspect of their home. By using repurposed Dodge Caravan windows as an awning and bark from the furniture industry for eclectic siding, they kept these materials out of the landfill. They gave us the inside scoop about passive solar energy, healthy choices in building materials such as natural oils for wood finishes, cellulose insulation, repurposed wood for doors, tables, and cabinets and used shipping containers for their office space.

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Sir Francis Drake Students at The Brower Center

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Brower Center Building

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Outside the Brower Center at Gather Restaurant

Next we visited Patty Donald, Program Director at the Straw Bale House at Shorebird Nature Center in the Berkeley Marina. She shared her dream with us by teaching us about straw bale construction, the material is reclaimed from California’s very own rice industry! The bales conserve heat in the winter and when combined with proper ventilation, they help maintain a comfortable temperature in the summer as well. We saw the “bi-directional” electric meter that runs backward as they produce more solar powered energy than the building actually uses, and learned about radiant heat, built right into the concrete flooring. We ate our lunches along the park’s waterfront before continuing on to the David Brower Center, a Platinum, LEED certified building. Situated right across from Cal Berkeley’s Campus, we enjoyed learning about Brower’s legacy as an environmentalist, talking about some of the qualifications to get LEED certification, and visiting the galleries. We saw the HUB, a coworking, shared office space, enjoyed the rooftop patio with photovoltaic panels, and ended our visit at Gather organic restaurant to see another creative example of repurposed materials being used to achieve very tasteful design. The seat covers on the benches were made from donated, old, leather belts. Lastly, we wandered through Berkeley Community College to see an example of a Silver LEED certified building before ending our eventful day of enjoying real examples of what is being studied in the classroom.

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Architects Cate Leger & Karl Wanaselja's "Boathouse"

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Shipping Container Office

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Rainwater Catchment

"A young student told me she wants to get into green building and environmental restoration. It made me smile to know there are interesting young people ready to take action in innovative ways. It all means that a healthier happier world is possible and it's happening!" Marley Benshalom, BAGT reen Building Tour Guide

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Watch what Ben Johnson, 3rd year Architecture major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has to say!

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I was so fortunate to attend (via sponsorship and volunteering) two of the most incredible conferences this past January and February:

Marissa at EcoFarm

Albert Straus (Straus Family Creamery) and Anna Smith Clark Get Gone Traveler

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Asilomar Beach


Becky, Friend and Farmer Al from Frog Hollow Farm

The 36th Annual EcoFarm Conference

The Conference's’ theme of “Regenerating our Lands and Water” juxtaposed the beauty of the surrounding and methods needed to keep it vital. Some highlights were:
- Attending a tour (not my own, for once!) of one of Driscolls Berry Farms and Whiskytown Farm doing amazing work in aquaponics
- Reconnecting with old friends and familiar faces on various panels (including one of our tour managers/advisors, Peter Ruddock)
- Hearing BAGT Board of Directors member Beth Waitkus explain her San Quentin-based Insight Garden Program (see below)
- Dancing to the music of “Hot Buttered Rum" and attending a hilarious “talent show”
- Participating in the sacred closing ceremonies on Asilomar Beach.
- New connections and so much learned while consuming delicious, healthy and locally-sourced meals from the providers actually at the event!


Julia Morgan Architecture


Wisdom 2.0

Wisdom 2.0 brought together some of the world’s greatest minds in modern technology, science, medicine, education, and spirituality. It's an opportunity for a diverse array of innovators to share ideas about how technology can be used to create a more open and healthy culture, and ultimately increase the quality of human connections on a large scale. During the conference I had the opportunity to hear from a number of inspiring folks, reconnect with old friends, and gather new ideas. I came back from Wisdom 2.0 feeling inspired and excited to team up with the wonderful people I met, and incorporate what I learned into BAGT’s upcoming tours.

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Russell Simmons

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Tibetan Monks

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Eileen Fisher

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Walking in the Rain with MJ's Brass Boppers Band

Report on Watersong

It seemed appropriate that BAGT's Watersong Tour or “Water Wander” demonstrating sustainable water practices in West Oakland paraded through a light drizzle, following the mardi-gras style music of MJ's Brass Boppers. Nothing dampened our lively group's spirit, and arriving at the American Steel Studios, we could actually hear the rainwater coursing through the pipes of the two 2,300 gallon water catchment tanks. We learned learned about the green wall that they are building and visited Kijani Grows where Eric Maundu captivated our group with his technology-based aquaponic system used to help solve hunger issues facing Africa.

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MJ Boppers

At O2AA, a shared industrial workspace, we learned about the closed loop system producing fish and plants through one of Oakland's largest aquaponic systems. Additionally, we enjoyed an explanation about biochar and explored the huge slabs of wood being salvaged at the site where the City of Oakland's felled trees become re-purposed lumber and wood products.

At Afrika Town, a community garden, we met Anthony Forrest and Patrick Dunigan from Planting Justice where we learned about the opportunities that the formerly incarcerated have to start a new life connecting to the earth and learning a trade. Afterwards they invited us in from the rain to hear the spoken word from Hip Hop for Change, This was truly an inspirational highlight of the afternoon.

Two Mile Wines hosted our final stop where we learned about water conservation in the wine and spirits industry. We sampled Crooked City Cider, brewed by one of the only two female cider makers in the USA! We sampled greywater beer from Half Moon Bay Brewery and toured Oakland Distillery's brandy production. The Tin Roof Community treated us to a sample of seaweed infused brandy with Meyer lemon and fennel. Our host explained that the wines come from biodynamic area farms that literally require no irrigation for their grapes!

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Carter Brooks Ice Sculpture

The evening portion of Watersong kicked off at Impact HUB Oakland with an exhibitor hall exploration of over 20 local businesses representing sustainable water technologies, water and food justice advocates, ecological health products and local, innovative financing models. A few of the organizations included: Greywater Action, Biome, the Pollinator Posse, KivaZip, MeterHero, Community Energy Services and Kangen Water.

Three panel discussions included talks on water's relationship to climate change, the intimate link between water and food production in California, and an exploration of the distinctions and similarities in current water conservation and solar energy practices. Our keynote was given by Will Travis: a consultant, writer, teacher and climate change speaker who focuses on sea level rise adaptation. With over forty years of experience in California coastal management, Will spent 17 years as the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. He was joined by 11 incredible panelists across three panels. The space at Impact HUB was brought to life by beautiful artwork showcased by 7 local artists across several mediums- sculptures, paintings, film, and photography- keeping within the theme of water and how we interact with it's various forms in our lives. Artists highlights of the evening included climate change artists Carter Brooks and his ice sculptures, Amy Siedman and her gorgeous photographs, Michele Guieu and her inspiring and educational short films along with Meghan Moe Beitiks and her playful photographs. In addition, a student group from the design department at UC Davis developed an interactive installation demonstrating the various levels of water use in agriculture.

Along with incredible artwork by local artists, seven local organizations showcased innovative works including residential-scale water re-use and catchment technologies by DIG Cooperative and community-scale wastewater treatment solutions.

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Planting Justice

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UC Davis Art Students with Maria Williford (Center) from Dig Coop

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Tour Guides: Marissa, Dixie & Patricia


Sabor Mexicano Farm

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Gathering Berries at Sabor Mexicano Farm

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A Company Retreat

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Beautiful Event Space

Last Call! Off-season Rates through March!

Looking for a last minute location for your next retreat or getaway? Sabor Mexicano Retreat, Event Center and Organic Farm in beautiful Guerneville (Sonoma County) offers a unique farm stay opportunity for reunions, celebrations, retreats and more. Located only 1.5 hours from San Francisco, it has plenty of space (sleeps up to 18!) and modern amenities in an idyllic and historic setting. A bonus of renting the farm is that you get to feel good about supporting Bay Area Green Tours since our nonprofit receives a portion of each rental fee!

Monday-Thursday $840/night (30% off)
Friday-Sunday $975/night (25% off)
Please check out our VRBO page!
BAGT can also arrange for tours of the area and there’s a variety of fun activities available on and off the farm in this vacation wonderland!

Check out the rave reviews from a variety of wonderful organizations who have loved their time at Sabor Mexicano. They include: The Sustainable Economies Law Center, Oakland Impact HUB, CoFED, Whole Foods Leadership Teams, Alt School, Darby Smart, Argonaut Cycles, and UC Davis' Chicano/Chicana Studies Department which booked the property for a writing retreat. Your organization or workplace could be next!

Also check out our Field to Forest Page to learn more about Forest View Apple Ranch for apple pressing opportunities and outdoor celebrations!

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Forest View Apple Ranch's Treehouse


Forest View Apple Ranch Apple Trees

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Apple pressing at Forest View Apple Ranch



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Insight Garden Program

Our Board of Director Beth Waitkus' Insight Garden Program (IGP) launched a month-long Barnraiser crowdfunding campaign, #GrowPrisonGardens, on March 7, 2016 and Bay Area Green Tours has signed on as one of our Campaign Advisory Committee Members. A longtime partner of Bay Area Green Tours, Insight Garden Program is a nationally recognized, evidence-based prison rehabilitation program that transforms prisoners’ lives through connection to nature. Using an innovative curriculum combined with the design and installation of food and flower gardens, IGP is bringing change to prisons across California.

The money raised during this campaign will be used to design, build, grow and sustain flower and vegetable gardens in five California State Prisons. These gardens will help IGP continue to fulfill their mission to connect prisoners to nature, end ongoing cycles of incarceration, and create safer communities. Please support this important work!

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2015 Sustainable Enterprise Conference Graphice Recording by Christine Walker

Sustainable Enterprise Conference

April 7, 2016, Sonoma Mountain Village, Rohnert Park, CA

I'm thrilled to be participating in the Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism Panel at the fantastic Sustainable Enterprise Conference co-founded by our Board Member Robert Girling. Did you know that travel, tourism and hospitality accounts for over 10% or world income and contributes to the employment of one in every six people on the planet? Tourism adds jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities, revenues for governments and income to communities. But without careful consideration it can threaten to degrade our precious environment adding a burden to the local habitat, congestion of roads and an escalating waste stream from hotels, spas and restaurants. What is meant by sustainable hospitality and who are some of the leaders around the world?

This workshop will involve participants in identifying issues and proposing solutions like:
1) What are the environmental challenges facing the hospitality industry?
2) What is sustainable tourism and in what ways can sustainable tourism protect and preserve our landscapes and environment?
3) What strategies and policies are needed to support sustainable hospitality?

More Info HERE
We look forward to seeing you there! Please join us at our booth and say hello.


Intern and Volunteer Update

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Last February, we said goodbye to our international intern, Wendy Bouayom. She was born in Gabon and raised in Republic of The Congo. She eventually moved to France to obtain higher education in Business and Marketing. She chose to come to the Bay Area for her international experience as part of her school program. In the last five months, she was instrumental in developing our graphic design and website improvements. Her skills brought us a more refined website, she also brought a lot of positive energy and team spirit to everyone around. Before her departure from BAGT she said that the experience and the knowledge she has gained from BAGT is greatly appreciated by her and will surely help in her future career.

Her skills brought us a more refined website and her positive energy and team spirit were a joy to witness. We will surely miss her!


BAGT Gratitude

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With gratitude

We have a special thank you to share! Blueprint Fox, a Bay Area consulting firm for nonprofits has generously offered their professional grant management expertise to us - pro bono! They will be assisting us in grant research and development. They also provide services in Program Development, Organizational Change and Technology Integration to a range of nonprofits across the country and are committed to offering their services to other organizations quarterly. Be sure to follow them on Twitter @BluePrintFox to learn more. We’re very excited to work with this talented and experienced team! -

Spring Has Spung!

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All of us at BAGT are excited to welcome a new season of rolling green hills, rushing creeks vibrant flowers, and baby animals. This is the perfect time to celebrate the richness of the season by gathering with friends and family to take a tour or enjoy the beautiful Sabor Mexicano Farm. Please contact us to learn more about our tours and services. As always, thank you for your continued support- it means the world to us!

With deepest gratitude,
Marissa LaMagna

The Many Ways You Can Support BAGT!

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Donate online to Keep Field Trips Alive!
Send a check to: BAGT, 221 29th Street, Oakland, CA 94611
Become a sponsor: contact
Refer us to teachers preparing their students for a sustainable future
Book Sabor Mexicano Farm or Forest View Apple Ranch
Install solar through Sungevity - $1,000 credit for you; $1,000 donation to BAGT
Organize a tour with your friends, family or colleagues
Do you work for a company that donates to 1% for the Planet? Let us know!
Contact us to discuss bequests, gifts of stock, and other methods of financial support
No money? No problem. Spread the word. Follow and LIKE US simply by clicking on the icons below

Can You Make a Company Donation through Benevity?

Workplace Giving: As part of the growing movement in conscious capitalism and corporate social responsibility initiatives, more and more companies are donating to local non-profits or offering to match employee donations. We’ve partnered with Benevity to make this process even easier. Check with your company’s HR department to see if they participate in a giving program through Benevity or another platform.This new year, make BAGT the chosen cause for your workplace giving program, and your gift could easily be doubled! All donations are tax deductible.

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