Outcomes of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women – Moving Forward

At the end of this year’s CSW57 there was victory through the outcomes, but there were days and days of conflict and uncertainty that needed our immediate attention and the signatures of our global family. I was so amazed, as were many that there were those present who wanted to the challenge already established international agreements on women’s human rights. Sigh. Really? Isn’t there other work to do that involves water, shelter, safety, and love that is more essential to the work at hand than: condemns the document’s wording on sexual freedoms and the rights of children born out of wedlock.

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My Journey East – Notes from the United Nations

banner1Here are my speech notes that informed my talk at the United Nations  last week that I shared during the Soulfire Collection Slideshow featuring 126 paintings– If you missed it, I have reposted it below.

For over 50,000 years, images of the feminine have been sculpted, painted and created by the people in honor of what is sacred and important to them. But over the past 5,000 or more, years a dishonoring of women, family, and in particular the feminine image has been systematic, intentional, devastating. The results of this are evidenced in more crimes to the innocents than ever before.

We are an image-based people, as form, as beings, we are in-formed by image itself. Therefore our self-image is often defined by the external images we see around us. Images can be used to dominate, to sell us things we don’t need, make us think and feel we are worthless and to keep us from thinking for ourselves. The revolution we are calling for, right now, is not a fight, or a resistance, it is a revolution in how we see ourselves, and therefore define our lives. We all are in recovery from learning to be invisible. We must now choose to be visible.

What are you called to create in your life?
What is the shape of the longing within your own soul?

The 2013 Annual Color of Woman Art Show: The Soul-Fire Collection is designed to LIGHT up your souls with the fire of what is possible, for you, using the image of the feminine as your spark. We share this collection with a specific intention in mind – a call to action for each of you viewing this show. That the images will inspire and provoke you to consider seeing yourself in a new and powerful way. And to discover the ways we are connected across cultures and geography, through art. Art that reflects personal story. We see these kinds of images, and beauty based therapeutic tools as an antidote to violence against women.

The images you see are not drawn from external sources; They are images called forth from the soul of the one holding the brush – from internal seeing, from getting to know ourselves from the inside out. The results are images that reflect discoveries from journeying to the internal world for information, and together they document a story of an uprising of teachers, leaders, healers, shamans, visionaries, entrepreneurs, dreamers, doctors, poets, change-makers. Our mission is to uplift, empower, inspire, inform and light the soul fires of creativity for women and men worldwide. Each one of these women is an artist and writer in her own right and each one of these women has chosen to teach others what they know about the transformational capacity of creativity to heal story and self image. Artist becomes teacher. Healed becomes healer. Wounds become gifts of transformation. This is the work of Intentional Creativity, a therapeutic approach to healing that combines ‘visionary imagination’ (a type of meditation method that seeks personal language and symbol) with the creative arts of word and image.

When we journey inside to discover who we truly are, we get access to tools for healing our stories, our self-images, and ultimately ourselves. When we dare to believe in ourselves we generate the courage to create lives that reflect who we are and what we care about. This is an invitation to explore our common language of image and provoke self expressed creativity in you!

What self-expression in you is longing to be revealed?
What is the thing in you that wants to light up your soul?

This work is a collaboration of women’s organizations and individuals who have gathered together to express themselves and their voices in the world and we collectively are called the Red Thread Nation. There is much being done, by so many of us who care, to reform the systems that are harming our people. And while we are doing this great work – our ability to stay connected to ourselves and our own unique voices will be a sustaining power for us as leaders, and for those we serve and long to bring living waters to. We cannot forget that we too need nurturing while we go about the daily task of saving the world. We are a movement of artists and poets who BELIEVE that it is time for an uprising.

Through our understanding of the Divine as inclusive of the feminine, regardless of specific spiritual tradition, if women are a part of it, the feminine is a part of it. When the feminine is a part of it, the conversation of wholeness and healing is possible. I don’t need to tell you all the statistics, since you are here, you already know. Being from the United States I often encounter people who don’t think we are still in trouble here – then I tell them that right here, every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted, and that 80% of the victims are under age 30. That one in five women will be raped or experience attempted rape in her lifetime, and that at least half off those women are under 25. Worldwide, the statistics are much worse than that; but I am here to offer hope. I’m here to extend a red thread of hope to you instead of remind you of what you already know, that there is much work to be done.

I want to state this because it is important: To work for women and the feminine is not about being against the masculine in any way. The work we are doing relates to men and women. Women are the mothers of the future, boys and girls. And when the mother is not safe, no one is safe. And of course men need to be included and integral for the true healing to happen – we can include this in the conversation, while not denying the realities. This method of creativity is being shared with men and women globally, and works equally well for both.

The Chinese legend says that those who are supposed to meet are connected by an invisible red thread since before birth. Each one of us is a part of the larger circle of the great red thread that encircles and connects all beings. What is your piece/peace of the thread? We are connecting our own piece of the red thread through image and word and the invitation to Intentional Creativity, our common language.

To be self expressed is the greatest risk and the greatest gift.

When our stories and images are expressed, our truth will be known and never hidden again. Through our understanding of who we are and what we are capable of, we can open the space for miracles to happen. Healing always happens in the realm of miracles. We are creative beings sharing these stories, images and ideas across the world that connect us – this IS the Red Thread Nation.

Report from Shiloh’s Journey to the East – A Quest for the Red Thread

IMG_4715 Dear Ones,

I have been on a week-long quest for the Red Thread on my journey to New York. This is the quest for what lights us on fire from the divine spark inside our hearts. What makes it grow brighter? What extinguishes it? How can we organize our lives so that we’re surrounded by that which sparks; instead of that which diminishes? I came to New York to speak at the United Nations for the CSW 57 – Commission on the Status of Women by invitation from WUNRN, The Women’s United Nations Report Network on a panel about ending violence against women through the arts and films and how creativity and poetry could contribute to this vision.

First a taste of New York

I am writing you from the Red Thread Café on the plane home from New York City. I have to tell the truth, I fell in love with New York. But I heard from New Yorkers that when you are in love, New York is in love with you and when you are broken hearted, everything seems against you. A city sensitive to our emotional state – I like it.

Walking into Grand Central station I cried with the beauty of being in one of our worlds ‘great spaces’. Walking Central Park, eating a hot dog with sauerkraut on a Winter day, I felt a part of everything and as if the bare trees were speaking to me as Trees of Life.  Taking communion in Saint Bartholomews, one of the city’s oldest churches, the Priest spoke of the two selves, the true self and the false self, and I was quaking inside to find a message akin to my own. Having a Waldorf salad at the Waldorf Astoria and a Manhattan in Manhattan. New York was saying ‘taste me’. And I did. We stayed at the Waldorf and enjoyed walking in the halls of ‘legend’ and there was beauty everywhere I looked: Chandeliers to rival a cathedral and live piano music that begged for pinot noir and black hats in Peacock Alley and it just goes on. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was beyond my wildest dreams – and the show, Matisse – In search of True Painting made me ache for my paintbrush and wish so much my students could be there seeing what I was seeing, and, understanding more about what we are doing in our work that he demonstrated in his. He was the FIRST artist to SHOW each step of the painting as a public installation, and guess what? Very much like the Color of Woman Method! O and the lox and bagel with capers (why doesn’t it taste like that at home?)–They promised me they would overnight me a dozen with all the fixings anytime. Our annual Cosmic Cowgirls conference is coming up, shall we order some New York bagels, my darlings?

I felt like I was hungry for this city. I would work until my eyes were bleary and insist on going out at all different hours of the day or night to ‘consume’ New York. One step out the door and the greeting from the cosmic hum of this place resonated in my soul. I understood ‘taking a bite out of the big apple’ though I hadn’t considered that metaphor until toward the end. Similar to leaving one’s heart in San Francisco because the city requires it of you, this city wanted to be tasted- ‘bit into’, and I did.

Touching Red Threads of East and West

We enjoyed an amazing round table evening with Cosmic Cowgirls and a few Cosmic Cowboys from the East on Park Avenue; I lead a workshop there with 17 women, some of whom traveled by bus for 8 hours and flew in from around the country to come to the Open Center and sit in red thread circle. IT was beyond – we really GOT to where we were headed, lighting our soulfires up in a proper blaze of creative love and glitter. Yes, the streets of New York really were glittering because of us. Literally. (That is how you know you have been to one of our workshops: there’s a trail of glitter behind you.)

IMG_6219The work at HAND

I was there to share the work of 42 women artists – to demonstrate through image the power of creativity as a tool for healing. I was invited to share my art and poetry there, but the more I sat with it the clearer I was that it was only a truly effective means of healing on a larger scale if it was clear that the work went beyond just one woman; if it was evidenced in the lives of other women. As I surveyed the content of the works created in the Color of Woman Teacher Training, I found such a diverse offering of images that seemed to truly move beyond culture, geography, nationality. These images were ladies of green, purple, gold, brown, turquoise and Red Madonnnas with symbols that defied known tradition and moved into an expansive voice of the feminine that felt like ANY woman could feel like she belonged to it. I want to say up front, the women’s work that is featured in the slideshow, is the work of artists, but it is also the work of teachers. Women who have said YES to teaching creative ways of healing to others; Women who walk between the two worlds, both serving self and serving the other selves all around them.

I felt you with me

You were with me. I felt myself as if in a constellation of love connected by red thread as strong and expansive as the strength of a spider’s web. I felt held inside of it at all times, as if you were around me in a palpable sense. Pressing in and expanding with my own breath. I knew I went for us. Those of you in my immediate community of Cosmic Cowgirls and Red Madonnas let me know you were there to help continue to spark my fire for the work at hand. You wrote songs.  You made videos. You painted paintings. You posted prayers. You wrote poems. You lit candles. You posted these on Facebook. We were a part of something bigger and we knew it. And I felt it, relied on it, leaned on it, and in my hardest moment during the day at the UN, I let you hold me up and let your voices come through.

IMG_4593What am I doing here, really?

What was I really there for? To share the work we created, and to launch the Red Thread Nation, a Global Tribe of Creative Beings. To expand the conversation between women across the globe through our common language of creativity. And what was the Red Thread Nation, really? It was scheduled to launch on the Monday of my speech and I felt I had been working on it my whole life – in fact it was one of my earliest domain purchases. Now ten years later I finally know. But still. What is it? A Place to say ‘Yes’. A place where the creative beings of the world would see and KNOW that we are united through word and image.

In my presentation I had to touch upon the possibility of creativity affecting women post-trauma; After all the bad stuff has happened, when we are left with pulling the pieces or our lives together to make some semblance of a place we could actually live inside of. I didn’t want it to be flowery – instead I wanted it to have teeth. At some point in my speech I remember saying: ‘…imagine if the tools to heal were placed in the hands of the women themselves, no longer a therapy based on needing someone to lead them through; A method based on showing women how to use tools to heal themselves and their stories, that they themselves were in charge of…’ Finding language for this element of our work felt like a million wings being released into the cosmos. Yes. This is possible. Yes we were already doing it. Yes we would continue to do it, only now it would be available to more women. Starting immediately, the plans are in place to make the technology we are using available in Spanish and Chinese. This is where to start.

The very first course in this method of creativity was taught in Mexico during the very same weekend.

Teaching women to think

IMG_6228 In my talk, I wanted to provide evidence of what was happening in our fledgling global village. Everyone was providing that: Evidence of war, rape, violence, poisoned water, missing children. But I did not want charts or statistics or numbers. I was proud to say that we serve over 300 women a month across the world (mostly US and Canada but with a growing reach). By sharing the work of the women who are living proof of the miracle of this kind of creative work, what kept rising to the top was the concept of being able to teach women HOW TO THINK using their own internal navigation tools. HOW heart-connected image combined with word gives us a WAY to heal. For the first time I ‘got’ this about our community, the keepers of the red thread: Our work is dedicated to raising up leaders, poets, writers, visionaries, healers, dreamers, by first healing ourselves; and from that space of health and connectedness, reaching out to bring our gifts and wisdom to the others in the world…with as much sparkle and chocolate as we can because when we’ve been through hell with our hair on fire any glimmer of hope can happen in the smallest, silly kindnesses. (Yes, we had chocolate at the United Nations. -It was on the altar).

Does the vision lead you or do you lead the vision?

When one is a visionary you set out to cause your vision and, you allow your vision to guide you on your way. Following the threads, circle of stones, raven calls and rose petals. Right? Your heart tells you about where to go and how to be inside of the journey – turn here. Choose purple. Buy that hat. Call that person. Reach out here. Turn this way, NOOO silly, THIS way. Share this tidbit. But often there is a larger vision, that you may or not be aware of that is in the invisible realm, that at times will make itself visible but mostly remains between the veils as something that cannot be viewed directly, so illusive and powerful is it that when you try to look at it, it so big you cannot see it at all because it is the larger context. But it is what is calling your name and waking you up in the night. ‘That’ thing which may have no name but somehow, defines everything.

How does this work?

first_pageWhen I shared the slideshow of the Color of Woman Teacher Graduates and Artists, the faces of the people showed they were right there with me. Heads were nodding and hearts were being held. They saw, in the work, the miracle of what was possible. I told them we drew our images from within ourselves – where the stories of our lives live. I told them how each canvas holds a part of our story that gets transformed as it transfers itself from our psyche onto the canvas. I told them this work could be taught globally to women who are in post-trauma, those who are continually plagued by the retelling of their story but not really seeing that story move to transformation. I told them that neuroscientifically their brain was not designed to change without the tool of image to reshape it. I told them that this was not a spiritual concept, but a scientific reality, about how the right and left brain are part of what will make it possible for us to live inside of ourselves differently by learning how to navigate our inner terrain. I told them about the muse and how she begins over time to transform the voices in our head and how she needs training to do that, and how image and symbol and story are held inside of each being.

At the end the people came to greet me and I was able to give them the newly minted Red Thread Nation business card. One woman said: “This presentation was worth my entire visit to the United Nations.”  A nun from the Philippines asked for a copy of the poem I read. Teenage girls asked to be a part of it, and so much more.

I’ll be back, United Nations!

Still I was searching for the real reason I came; The red thread that was connected right to my heart. The ‘finding’ of that red thread for my journey wasn’t revealed to me until the very last day. We had to get to the airport, and a blizzard was coming in but there was one final thing I had to do. We accepted the risk, left our luggage at the hotel and hopped in a cab to the United Nations Plaza for one last visit.

IMG_4719I walked into the Conference of that day, which was the planning for the 2014 CSW 58. I was clear: I would be back next year and I would find a way to make it happen. Seeing the women sitting behind their placard: South Africa, Kenya, China, Argentina, Europe, each nation with its own placard, It was so mind blowing to SEE it! It was like when I saw VanGogh’s Sunflowers for the first time in person… you see it, but you didn’t really SEE it. My placard I carried in my heart and on my wrist: The Red Thread Nation – A Global Tribe of Creative Beings. I listened to statistics and atrocities, of progress made and not made, about water, sanitation, healthcare, injustices, access to education. As each woman’s nation was called on, she said her peace/piece: that which she had traveled across the world to speak. With each one I sent her my love and back up; that she would have her voice heard. I felt proud of us as a people, as the United Nations. I felt part of it. I felt hope. I felt desperate. I felt love. I felt wonder. I felt loss. I felt, soul fire. I felt ready. I felt …ignited!

For Immediate Release – Transformational Art Shown at the United Nations

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

An Art Collection of 42 Transformational Artists Shown Today at the United Nations

THE UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, New York – March 4, 2013

Contact: www.redthreadnation.com / [email protected]

Today in New York the paintings of 42 women artists will be shown at the United Nations. This series is called The Soul Fire Collection and features 126 images in acrylic painted by women around the world. The Founder of the Color of Woman School, Shiloh Sophia McCloud will be sharing the works as a part of her presentation at the CSW 57 – The 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. McCloud is a part of the panel Women and Violence: Human Rights Activism Through Arts and Film sponsored by the Women’s United Nations Network (WUNRN) and the Women’s News Network (WNN).

“This series is a testament that healing and transformation are possible through intentional creativity,” says McCloud. Just 2 years ago none of these paintings existed. Eight out of 10 of the women did not even identify as artists. And look what they have created. These paintings were made with the Color of Woman method based on intentional creativity and intuitive painting in which the artist looks within for images and draws her inspiration right from the heart. These images are not only a healing journey, but the painting itself becomes an icon of what’s possible for her life and for her own self-image.

To see The Soul Fire Collection yourself, you can visit www.redthreadnation.com.

The theme for the show is soul fire, which is a metaphor of the process of waking up to one’s life and one’s calling. The Color of Woman School asserts that to risk being self expressed is to risk being fully alive. McCloud says, “There is much work that needs to be done to end the violence, and while we are doing that it is absolutely essential for us to provide tools for healing that really work – that put the tools directly into the hands of the woman herself.”

The Legend Lives In Her Heart

The Legend Lives In Her Heart by Shiloh Sophia McCloud

McCloud started teaching this style of visionary painting called the Color of Woman Method in 2004, and is scheduled to speak at the 57th UN CSW today at 4:30pm EST at the United Nations. She will speak on the healing power of creative acts, and particularly painting, on the lives of women and how this kind of work can be employed for women post trauma to bring healing into their lives.

“Many of us have spent our lives trying to hide who we are and silencing our voices and images in order to be safe. But safety is an illusion when we cut ourselves off from who we are. The heart of this work is about learning how to navigate our internal guidance system. We are such complex beings and not many of us know how to truly think. For example, to think a thought we haven’t thought before. Or to make choices that are not based on past wounding, but instead are based in our inner promptings, our soul longings. Through intentional creativity, with practice, anyone can learn how to listen and act from an authentic, core place within themselves, and art is the way to make that happen. In the Color of Woman Method we employ techniques like Jung’s Active Imagination, as well as intuition, intention and communication with our internal self, our Muse. When we begin to express ourselves through creativity, a natural progression of healing becomes possible,” says McCloud.

McCloud has worked in the arts for close to 20 years, starting her career as a professional artist at the age of 23. She has represented hundreds of women through her Northern California galleries. McCloud asserts, “It is shows like The Soul Fire Collection that will help us continue to move across the borders and boundaries, through our common language of image.”

There is also something unique about this show, beyond how inspirational the images are. These women included in the collection did not just study to become artists at the Color of Woman School, each one trained to teach the method, and is leading her own workshops online and in person across the globe. With the current potential of online education, the reach of these teachings is enormous and expanding.

Says McCloud, “There is an uprising of creative beings happening around the world now and we are a part of gathering them together. We confirm what people already know – there is relief from suffering through creative acts. This kind of work is a witness to the power of beauty and story as an antidote to negative self images and the suffering caused in our lives when we don’t believe in ourselves and who we are.”

This showing is the core part of McCloud’s presentation at the United Nations. She was invited to speak by WUNRN – The Women’s United Nations Network. The UN Commission on the Status of Women conference can be traced back in 1945. Today, the Commission has been asked by the UN General Assembly to develop its role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities, among other initiatives. In addition to invited delegates, the conference is expected to draw over 4,000 women from diverse global regions. These women and the general public are invited to hear the delegates – including Shiloh McCloud – and other speakers who will be part of the event sponsored by the Women News Network (WNN) and the Women’s United Nations Report Network (WUNRN).

Shiloh McCloud is a visionary artist and poet. Her gallery, Shiloh Sophia Gallery, is located in Northern California. Through her work with Cosmic Cowgirls University, Color of Woman School and now the Red Thread Nation, the education they offer serves over 300 women per month in online and in-person courses, and reaches upwards of 15,000 viewers worldwide on a monthly basis. McCloud has published seven books, teaches at Sofia University and can be found most mornings in her studio, painting her prayers.

The Soul Fire Collection is dedicated to lighting the soul fires of human beings.

To see the Collection yourself, you can visit www.redthreadnation.com.

Here’s a note from the 15-year-old son of one of these artists, a graduate of the Color of Woman Teacher Training that he asked his mom to share with us: “Thank you to all who helped clear the road of life for my mum. Before you came I could see that mum wasn’t sure what way to turn, then you all came along to help her. You cleared the fog and paved the road as best as you could. Now I see my mum with a beautiful smile whilst she is heading in the right direction. I thank you again a million times more for bringing spark to her divine soul and thumping heart. Thank you for the divine feminine!”

Here is what this Australian mom, now an artist and a teacher, has to say: “How I interpret living in a ‘fog’ is how I felt from the impact of domestic violence and abuse, those frozen moments, too scared to leave and too scared to stay. Finding my voice through these paintings, coming into an awareness of the sacred, my empowerment, the knowledge that resides within us not usually available through conventional means, but accessible through this work, harmonizing my voice with the voices of women in all the world.

“I changed my reactions and created stronger boundaries, with love. Not able to change others, I had to stand up and be the change for my well-being, my children’s, my partner’s, and that of my community. My vision is now stronger and this has impacted my personal life, through to my family, including that of my partner who was stuck in his cycle of childhood trauma. We are communicating and choosing peace, one step at a time, and for me, by continuing with one trusting brush-stroke at a time.

“The journey of one painting led to an awareness of issues affecting girls and women in the world today. This work has enabled my spark and light to begin a change and healing in others, like all women and those in the Color of Woman, we all have our story, and through our experiences we can share and light the spark, the inner light and soul fire of others.

“I am just at the beginning of my journey with teaching The Color of Woman Method to others in my community, but my expression is already on its way to reaching others whose lives have been impacted by violence, abuse, or who need a little help or reassurance to trust their own power and visionary creative being, which exists in each and every one of us from the day we were born.

We are the Red Thread Nation!

Who We Are: The Red Thread Nation is a tribe that is ‘chosen’.

We are a tribe of creatives, poets, artists, dancers, dreamers, healers, visionaries and change makers.We are a community of woman dedicated to creativity, connection, conversation and collaboration.We all come from different geographies and genealogies, and for many of us we do not feel we ‘fit’ where we came from. THIS is a place where we CHOOSE to participate inside of a newly defined culture. A culture defined by a community of creatives who are guided by the heart. Many of us resist the dominant over-cultures and are working to find our voice in world that might not have valued the things we have had to say.

 

Where We Come From: The Red Thread Nation was forged from a mutual desire to serve, empower and bless.

The Red Thread Nation is a collaborative project guided by two organizations, Cosmic Cowgirls University, founded in 2006 and The Color of Woman School, founded in 1994. These are alternative education vehicles that teach both online and in-person courses. Cosmic Cowgirls is a United States Based member owned LLC that is a nationally based and dedicated to transformational education based on the visionary arts and entrepreneurship. The Color of Woman School is an International teacher training for those who desire to ‘teach’ the method started by our Founder, Shiloh Sophia McCloud that teaches a style of cathartic healing painting that makes it possible for anyone to paint, and discover healing.  We are not a legal structure or organized corporation, we are a gathering of souls.

 

What we are working on: The Red Thread Nation is a university without borders teaching transformational education.

Our vision is three-fold – 1. University: online and in-person education globally 2. Community: Introduce and establish a culture that is guided by love and creativity 3. Magazine: Publish articles and conversations that teacher and empower ourselves and our readers towards causing and creating a vital life. By vital we mean a life where you are encouraged to become WHO you are and live out that life. Essentially our courses provide tools abou authoring YOUR future.

 

What We Care About: The Red Thread Nation is dedicated to creating systems of connection.

Our Vision is to forge connections between art, healing and women worldwide. Our delivery vehicle for this is our courses, our published materials and magazine, and creating relationships through a community with a common vision to connect through creativity. To discover what makes us the same in the most basic ways, and how we can be a part of something larger than ourselves but not lose sit of our individual visions for our lives. We develop systems, methods that we share with women, that create an opportunity for lasting change in their lives.

 

What We Believe: The Red Thread Nation comes from the knowledge that healing is possible.

We work with a culture of creativity that believes that all beings are inherently creative. Our research over the past 20 years has demonstrated that when women are given the tools to create a path of healing and self expression, that the ability to transform their lives is in their hands. We believe that inside of every single being resides an internal navigation system which is deeply connected with that person’s core identity and ability to self express. At the very heart of our work is to introduce others to the awareness of how this ‘system’ can work for them and the development of their lives.

 

Who Should Join Us: Women who feel called to creating connections with other women creatives.

By creative, we don’t just mean those who are practicing in the arts, since we believe that all beings are creative. IF you want to FEEL like you are a part of something larger than yourself, if you want to discover who you are at the level of your core identity, or if you just want to see what this tribe of wild women creatives is up to, then join us. Joining means you will be kept in the loop about your work in the world through our Magazine, RedThreadNation.com

The Soul Fire Collection from Color of Woman

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