We’ll Be Doing More Than Just WALKIN’ in Memphis!

Thursday, August 11th, 2011   Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter

GetEQUAL organizers from across the country are traveling to Memphis in mid-August for an intensive weekend of training. This “Organizing For Equality” training is being co-facilitated with activists from United We DREAM and the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center, and will cover everything from telling your personal story to creating an organizing strategy to identifying tactics to action-planning to an intensive instructional course in nonviolent civil disobedience.

Below are the stories of folks attending this training. More bios (and photos!) will be added over the course of the next few days/weeks as they’re sent in…this list is not yet complete.

And if you’d like to help support all these amazing organizers, consider making a donation to fuel all the incredible work they’re going to be doing after they leave Memphis!

AJ Rangel, Texas
“I am bringing a detail-oriented and logistically-driven mind, as well as a compassionate heart and an empathetic spirit. I hope to leave this training with a better understanding of the tools that we all have to affect change in the world around us, and a skill set that can be used, and taught, for the benefit of our society.”

Alfredo Del Cid, California
“I will bring to this training: my drive, commitment and passion for real equality; a great sense of humor and ability to make friends; and an open and eager mind to learn and share ideas with newly found friends. Over the course of the weekend, I hope to learn: new skills that will allow me continue and further my work, ideas that will allow me to recruit more effectively for new activists; and a country-wide support network!”

Andrew Stankevich, Mississippi
“I’m a 34 yr. old gay law student from Jackson, MS (originally from NYS). I’m an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church movement. I’m a seasoned activist with press experience and civil disobedience experience, but primarily with other causes like hunger/poverty, anti-war, community development, political prisoners, police brutality, etc. I also wrote an innovative legal brief reframing lawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in MS as unlawful religious discrimination that I would love to find a lawyer to help me litigate in Jackson. I’m also very interested in meeting other people, networking and hearing everyone else’s stories!”

Angel Chandler, North Carolina
“I became more active in civil rights for TLGBIAQ individuals and couples after my family was discriminated against in the Tennessee family court system. A family court judge banned my partner from our home when my children were present due to “moral concerns.” The ACLU picked up our case and, after more than three years of battling, psychological examinations, and multiple hearings on my “lifestyle,” the court of appeals in Memphis, TN ruled in my favor, twice. As bad as our situation was I know that there are many others who are facing much worse. I want to use my experience with government-sponsored discrimination to help others, to work for full equality, and to hold those accountable who stand in the way. I also work to help people — who think we ask for too much, too soon — understand that if they had the government in their lives, in their homes, in their bedrooms the way that we have, they may have a different point of view.”

Ann Coleman, Massachusetts
“I’m bringing my commitment and enthusiasm that immigrant, women, workers, housing, education and healthcare rights are LGBT rights. I’m hoping to walk away with the tools to build a grassroots equality campaign that connects with the growing global youth movement that isn’t willing to compromise or wait for pieces of equality and justice to be served in one state only to be taken away by another.”

Art Izzard, Georgia
“I was raised outside Kansas City, Missouri. In the early 90′s, I escaped the conservatism of southwest Missouri (where I attended college) to the welcoming confines of Athens, GA, and later Atlanta. My work with the Obama campaign in 2008, coupled with the fallout from Prop 8, gave me a much-needed kick in the pants and a renewed focus on the fight for equality. Along with several other area activists, I co-founded the Queer Justice League to galvanize our community in response to the Atlanta Police Department raid on Atlanta’s Eagle Bar. Our little band has stuck together since and has joined with GetEQUAL Georgia several times to fight for equality here in the deep South. One of the reasons we formed the QJL two years ago was to bring the often fractured Atlanta community together to we can speak with a single voice. It’s that same desire that brings me to Memphis to cross paths, break bread, and organize with those I might otherwise never meet. I’m looking forward to adding my voice to the larger community and joining everyone to get equal!”

Ben Crowther, Washington
“I’m coming to the Memphis training with community organizing experience, a passion for justice, a drive to make a difference, and an understanding that when it comes to fighting for civil rights, every tool needs to be on the table. I hope to bring this training back to Seattle and utilize it in the upcoming campaign for Marriage Equality in Washington that will likely come about in 2012.”

Beth Brooker, Virginia
“I am a 46 year old Southern girl. Being brought up in the South in the 70’s and 80’s, when you would never speak about your lifestyle if you weren’t “straight,” has made me a fierce advocate for full federal equality for all. I bring to this training an eagerness to learn, and am looking forward to the tools I will receive! I am excited about returning home and getting my community/state fired up.”

Brittany Arneson, New Mexico
“I’m 22 years young and looking forward to learning from those who have been fighting for LGBTQIP equality since before I was born! I can no longer sit back and take my Governor’s cowardly actions against the LGBTQIP community, and I’m hoping to learn more about battling the officials who impose inequality as a matter of policy. Finally, I want to help gather other straight allies to fight for the rights that all people deserve!”

Carlos Wilson, California
“I will be joining this training from San Francisco, CA.  I am bringing dedication, hope and warm smiles that will help fuel us through the weekend and onward.  I am excited to strengthen my non violent civil disobedience skills – and thus my self-confidence.  I hope to come home with strategies to achieve economic equality across the board for LGBT people – including in housing, immigration, education and marriage.”

Caterina Victoria de Quesada, Florida
“I’m a 20-year-old bisexual woman fed up by the inconceivable prejudice and unabashed hatred harbored by our own government and peers. I am refusing to settle below anything but absolute full equality, and I will bring this passion for immediate change to the training. I know GetEQUAL will equip me with the fundamental tools needed to catalyze this revolution.”

Cesar Vazquez
“I am a 27 year old married gay man. I hail from Southern California, specifically the heart of ultra-conservative Orange County. I have also been politically active for a few years on my own since H8 was injected into my beloved state. I am motivated to absorb as much knowledge, skills, techniques and ideas from this amazing opportunity and apply it all to the recently-founded Southern California Gay Militia, in response to the sharp increase in violence towards OUR Rainbow Tribe — especially towards our most vulnerable. I am an advocate of empowerment through education. Together I know we can move mountains and I am grateful to be doing so alongside my fellow brothers and sisters.”

Charles Butler, Washington, DC
“I organize for GetEQUAL in Washington, DC. Just over two years ago, I came to the realization that I could be an actor in our own civil rights struggle, rather than just a spectator and commentator. I hope to help others reach that same realization.”

Chelsea Sayre, North Carolina
“I’m an organizer with the North Carolina Trans Panther Party and a member of GetEQUAL NC. I’m bringing a voice for low-income trans women and a voice for LGBT communities in a state fighting a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. I hope to learn how to better organize in the face of discrimination and create an impact that will make life better for everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Colin Daniels, Missouri
“My name is Colin I am a 23 year old cisgender male, gay, physically disabled, queer person of color. I am bringing seven years of community organizing experience with me on a wide array of issues pertaining to the LGBTTSQAI and people of color communities. I hope to hone my skills in radical grassroots justice-seeking, meet lots of super-cool new people, and get the chance to be a part of the cultural fabric that GetEQUAL is creating and changing so drastically. This is just the beginning of what I’m hoping to glean out of this training experience!”

Daniel Cates, Texas
“I bring to this training 5+ years of organizing experience, my absolute stubbornness, my creativity, my LOUD voice, my faith and my love, passion, frankness, drive, blood, sweat and tears. I will take with me a renewed and reinvigorated drive to finish this FIGHT and, from each one of the attendees, just one more reason to get up every day and do SOMETHING for equality.”

David John Fleck
“I was first arrested for a civil disobedience direct action in 1977 when I joined 400 other students in occupying the administration building at the University of California Santa Cruz to demand that the UC Regents divest all stock holdings in American companies doing business in South Africa in protest of the country’s policy of apartheid. GetEQUAL has reignited the fierce warrior in this 56 year old Queer man and now I am fighting against LGBTQI apartheid in my own country. I come to Memphis to learn, share and plan!”

Delfin Bautista, Washington, DC
“i bring to the training my passion for creating spaces that not only affirm our equality as people but that celebrate our whole personhood in its complexity and richness. i bring my desire to be challenged to engage new ideas and my hope of challenging others to learn from my two centavos. i hope to connect with others, learn from their experiences, and be reminded that we are not alone in this lucha for justice, equality, and celebration of all.”

Duncan McCullough, Mississippi
“I’m bringing a strong sense of social justice and a vision of what the South could be if our famed ‘Southern politeness’ was actually true compassion for others. I want to learn as much as possible and soak up the information presented. I hope this weekend will give me the tools I’ve been needing to move- and if necessary push – my community forward.”

Edric Figueroa, Georgia
“I’m 22 years old, and coming to the training from Atlanta! I’m a student there, studying Human Services. I’m bringing passion, radical politics, and an open mind to the training in Memphis. I hope to get some useful organizing skills and walk away from the weekend feeling fresh and inspired!”

Ellen Sturtz, California
“I bring to Memphis a bit of sadness from my Father dying in his sleep last week, a desire to no longer be a nice lesbian, and an interest in figuring out how to best further full LGBT equality — and if that means getting arrested, count me in! I hope to take away connections with other like-minded people in creating effective, meaningful, powerful actions, and greater confidence and knowledge in using nonviolent civil disobedience. My background involves numerous times marching down 5th Avenue for one cause or another, protests including no nukes, Soviet Jewry, and the ERA. I fought the expansion of the Morro Bay power plant and helped organize the first Pride in the Plaza in San Luis Obispo. I’ve worked for nonprofits and corporations, and then found government to be the most satisfying to push the envelope where not everyone always agreed with me. My first arrest took place on January 30th in Rancho Mirage, in front of the place the Koch Brothers and their billionaire friends were gathering.”

Erica Keppler, Arizona
“I am a transwoman living in Phoenix, and have been working in LGBT political movements and attempting to organize the Arizona transgender community in support of their own rights for the past five years. I co-founded and co-chair Arizona Trans Alliance, a group that seeks to be a face and a voice for transgender people in Arizona, and have acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience in the challenges of organizing transgender people toward political action. While a member of the Steering Committee of Human and Equal Rights Organizers (H.E.R.O.), I had the privilege of working with GetEQUAL on three protest actions, learning firsthand how effectively they organize, and hope to further my education of how I can help do the same in my own state.”

Eyad Alkurabi, New York
“I am a Public Administration Graduate student at Hudson Valley Community College, and a transferee to Rockefeller College at the University at Albany. I am working on a major in Public Policy and double minor in Political Communications and Management. I am originally from Saratoga County (Clifton Park), and hope we can give one last big push for equality for all!”

Georgia Adkins, Tennessee
“I am a 36 year old bisexual disabled veteran. I was recently part of my first GetEQUAL Rally in Raleigh, NC. Most of my leadership and organizational skills have been in the Pagan and Veteran communities, and I look forward to learning more at this training. Not only is Equal Rights important to our LGBTQ community, but it can also be applied in other Equal Rights scenarios. I am happy to find new ways to open the eyes of my fellow Eastern Tennessee residents and all Americans.”

Holly Theobold, Colorado
“I’m bringing my desire to learn and bring equal rights for all to the Memphis training. I’m hoping to leave with the tools and knowledge to help spark a civil revolution! Because equal means everyone!”

Iana Di Bona, Texas
“I am an open, mindful, strong and passionate servant for social justice. I am dedicated to creative education in the pursuit of equality. I envision this collaboration will birth discoveries, understanding and expansion of methods to achieve unity and peace.”

Isaac Brown, Texas
“I bring to this training creativity (I’m a graphic designer), a unique perspective (I’m a multiracial gay man, raised by my mother who is a lesbian), and years of activism and advocacy since I was in high school in Atlanta. My first megaphone experience was a protest rally on police brutality to a Muslim woman at Centennial Park!”

Janelle Mungo, Washington, DC
“I am living in Washington, DC as a GetEQUAL State Lead with a background in community organizing on a variety of issues from the great state of California. With a constant focus on a federal agenda here in the Nation’s capital, I can’t wait to hear stories and experiences from activists in other parts of the country. With the amazing amount of power and skill coming together in Memphis, I know we will be able to make huge strides in our fight for equality!”

Jarrod Scarbrough, New Mexico
“I have successfully organized rallies and protests, so I bring to the table ideas and advice on logistics for such events. I have been working hard this year to bring people together in my state and motivate the LGBTQIP communities to stand up, speak out, and get active in order to GetEQUAL! I hope to leave Memphis with greater ideas and tools to inspire more activism in the state of New Mexico.”

Jase Watson, California
“As a member of ‘the younger’ generation, I bring the hope & passion that inspires others to work toward our equality & fight to push the movement forward. I aim to sharpen my current skills & harness new ones so that, upon return, I can help lead my community & our collective movement towards full federal equality in all 50 states.”

Jason Hoppe, Arizona
“As the communications chair of H.E.R.O., I am bringing my knowledge of social media, constant contacts and press releases. I am also bringing my past experience with organizing actions with H.E.R.O. and being involved with several actions with GetEQUAL. What I hope to gain from this training is more knowledge regarding issues in the GLBTQ community and advanced knowledge on networking with media outlets and fellow activists.”

Jay Morris, Texas
“As a Texan, I witness injustice in the faces of our representatives nearly every day. They attack immigrants, they attack the economically disadvantaged, the disabled and the LGBT. Despite the oppression of Texas, I will bring hope to Memphis. I know that to catch a star, we must reach for the sky. I hope to bring back with me a larger LGBTQ family and the tools needed to never stop fighting for my family.”

Rev. Jeffrey Jordan Pickett, Pennsylvania
“I am the Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church. I moved to Philly in 1994 after being outed by the Bishop of the AME Church in West Virginia. I am bringing to Memphis a heart for justice and equality, 17 years of leadership in the GLBTQ and HIV communities, and a willingness to learn. I hope to leave with new tools to use to empower the glbtq community to stand up and demand justice and equality.”

Jimmy Gruender, Arizona
“I am bringing my sense of humor, my love for activism, and I hope to bring home friendships and networks to change the world , I am a activist because I want to honor those who have fought the fight in the past, they made it a better place for me to live, and I believe I owe the next generation to make it better for them.”

John Dean Domingue, Texas
“I’m bringing the passion and energy of a 20-year-old organizer as well as the life-long goal to always continue learning and developing. I can’t wait to learn more about the history of civil rights as well as learn new takes on time-tested tactics for social change.”

Julie Pousson, Texas
“I will bring a heart full of peaceful Love…a heart that has been broken, and has also been filled beyond measure…a heart that admires Equality Warriors everywhere, and accepts only Equality as a possibility.”

Lisa McCellon, New Mexico
“I am a proud, polyamorous, bisexual woman with a seven year old rainbow princess girl-power smartie pants daughter, Sophia. Sophia was born into a triad as the youngest of five children among her three parents, and she continues to enjoy her big, special family with peace-loving parents who all participated together in Albuquerque’s 2011 Pride Parade. Having brought my family through cancer, brain tumors, surgeries, seizures, emotional trauma, severe autism and mental retardation, I lived every day in fear that my partner would die or be permanently disabled. In New Mexico, I don’t legally count in my family’s life. I’m going to Memphis to learn how to fix that so no one ever has to live through that again!”

Lucina Martinez, Texas
“I am bringing all of my powerful radical queer undocumented identities to the training. I will bring my passion and love for human rights and equality. I am excited that I will be refueled and fired up by the time I leave the training so that I will keep up the fight for equality for all LGBT people and bring what I learned back to my community.”

Luis Medina, Pennsylvania
“I bring passion and enthusiasm to this training as it is my first of its kind. I also bring experience in educating people about LGBT issues to break down bias, homophobia, and stereotypes by being part of the Bloomsburg University GSA LGBT Panels in classrooms. I hope to learn more about organizing and use the tools to fight for our well-deserved rights.”

Mandee Rowley, Arizona
“I bring a huge heart, a passion for equal rights for all humans, and the desire to be a part of change. I also have over eight years of experience in advocacy for the community of people impacted by HIV/AIDS. I am an educator and a behavioral health clinician, and have grown as an activist through my work with this community. I hope to continue my education and training as an organizer and meet new people. As a native of Arizona I feel strongly about organizing like-minded people in my state to turn things around and make this beautiful state a safe place to live!”

Matthew Papin, California
“I hope to learn to enlist others to demand equality now, so future generations don’t have to suffer the same indignities and injustices that we have. The United States Constitution states that ‘all men are created equal,’ and we’re still waiting, 230 years later, for that guarantee to be made valid!”

Melissa Kleckner, New Jersey
“I’ve been a straight ally since I first belted ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ on stage and it had to be explained to me why Daddy Warbucks was ‘just not that into’ Miss Hannigan (no, that wasn’t last week). I found my voice as an activist at a young age, protesting the Gulf War, running my high school’s AIDS awareness organization, and generally fighting and defying all rules I considered to be a social injustice. Today, I fight with that same spirit, but often have my 10-year-old daughter right beside me. As an MSW candidate, I hope to advocate for LGBTQ youth whose voice is often lost in this movement. Finally, it is my hope the powers that be across the country and in DC realize that the straight community is also here, and though we aren’t queer, we are just as angry, and we won’t be going away. We will no longer stand on the sidelines. We are coming out for equality!”

Michael Dixon, Virginia
“I’m bringing to this training the knowledge and experience earned in a personal history of direct activism that began in the 1980s in NYC, fighting Ronald Reagan and Ed Koch over misguided or nonexistent AIDS policies, and has continued through challenging Barack Obama on his opposition to marriage equality and his foot-dragging on the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ I’m bringing a thirst for full legal equality for every member of the LGBT community, informed by the knowledge that until all of us are equal, none of us are equal. And I’m planning to leave Memphis with a recharged, recommitted, and refocused network of skilled and ferocious Equality Warriors all over the nation I can work with, organize with, and battle for equality with at every level of community and government!”

Morgan Bonney, Ohio
“I wear the scars of injustice like handcuffs around my wrists, yet wear an armor of courage that deflects with love and radiates with joy. And I hope to hold the wisdom of the fighters that fight the same good fight.”

Nonnie Ouchtaqalla, Texas
“I’m hoping to gain knowledge on how to empower the severely oppressed community located in the second most conservative city in the United
States: Lubbock, TX.”

Peter Frank, New York
“I’m a disabled GOP LGBT political & community activist, advocate, & single gay guy living in Westchester County (northern NYC suburb). I’ve been doing a lot for the past few years: blogging, writing, tweeting, status updating, sharing, living, commenting, analyzing, communicating, loving, crying, emoting, ranting, raving, fabbing, evoking, and a few other related “INGs,” taken with a dash of New York Pizzaz, swag, style, oomph, kitzsch, kvetch, sarcasm, wit, tune, toon, and ‘tude. What I hope to get out of the training is a better understanding of NVCD tactics, new connections, ideas, tactics, thoughts, processes, actions, content, photos, videos, stories, openness, status updates, tweets, blogs, and related grey matter to fill my cerebral cortex and keep things hopping and jumping in there for some time to come.”

Richard Aviles, Minnesota
“I am a college student at St. Olaf College, and a board member with GetEQUAL. I am bringing to Memphis my radical xicano queer lens, a love for people, and the willingness and ability to mobilize and agitate people for social change.”

Rene Orozco, Texas
“I am a college student at San Antonio College, majoring in New Media Communications and Marketing. I would like to go into the field of Public Relations and maybe Event Organizing. Currently I am the vice president of GALA the LGBTQ and Allies alliance on my campus, a founder of ACE (Alliance of Colleges for Equality) a coalition with 6 other Collegiate LGBTQA alliances in San Antonio, an organizer for DANSA (Direct Action Network for San Antonio), and a board member for Pride Center — a group building an LGBTQ Community center. I’m also on the planning committee for Gay Pride San Antonio, the city’s Pride event, and a member of PFLAG of San Antonio. What I bring to the Memphis training is HOPE that some day everyone will be treated equally, PASSION to encourage others to join us in our movement, and TENACITY to make it happen. What I hope to receive from the training is how to keep our movement moving and gain information that I can share with the organizations in San Antonio.”

Robert Moore, New York
“I am a 31 year old gay male and 7th generation Mormon. I bring my experience working with the Mormon Church and the LGBTQI Mormon Community. I fight for the 15 year old forced to sleep on the street when her family kicked her out because she loves another girl, for the 12 year old boy who sits in the church pews every Sunday being told he is an abomination and going to hell, and I fight for the 17 year old who has a blade to their wrist feeling they can no longer go on living anymore in the wrong body. We will leave Memphis with the connections, knowledge and drive to finally GetEQUAL!”

Ryan Kendall, Colorado
“When my parents sent me to reversal therapy to make me straight, I knew my life would never be the same. When they told me I wasn’t welcome for Christmas, I knew I had lost them. On the day I left the reversal therapist’s office for good I knew that I’d be back. Every day, people are mistreated simply because of who they love, the color of their skin, and so many other reasons. This isn’t right, and it has to stop — WE have to stop it.”

Sasha Kaufmann, Massachusetts
“I am a 28-year-old a queer social work student coming to you from Massachusetts. I am bringing 12 years of queer activism experience, six years of community organizing action, and an open mind. Currently, I am a co-chair for Join the Impact Massachusetts and I hope to learn how I can connect the struggles back in the Commonwealth to the national momentum we will be building at this training.”

Tamara Jeanne Urban, South Dakota
“I’m really looking forward to this training opportunity! I’m an FTM trans-woman who is four years into my transition. I recently found out that I was born with an intersex condition and had been surgically assigned male as an infant. I’m an activist working in the state of South Dakota for LGBT equality. I’m very exited about having this unique opportunity to do something that can truly make a difference in the long struggle for LGBT equity in my home state. So far all of my activism efforts has been done by flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, which has gotten me by ok so far. But that’s not enough. In order to be able to build a successful and effective activist organization, the one thing that I desperately need is training and to build a network of connections with national activist organizations such as GetEQUAL and others.”

Tanya Domi, New York
“GetEQUAL has emerged at a critical and full moment in history: the fight to extend America’s promise of equality to LGBT Americans. This is a moment of renewal embracing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words that ‘nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time.’ It is a call that beckons us to fight with our minds and our bodies, but not with our fists; a ripe moment to do right.”

Tif Fernandez, New York
“I’ve been working full time on our movement since 2009, after returning from a year in Africa where I was part of the Centre for Human Rights masters of law program in Pretoria South Africa and Ethiopia. What I noticed among the brilliant lawyers there was a lack of entitlement due to generations of degradation under colonialism. Sadly, returning home, I came to see the same understandable victim’s mentality in our community and agenda, which I believe a quest for full equality can help address. I’m also in a bi-national relationship, and have worked on those issues with the New York Immigration Coalition and Out4Immigration, as well as eQualityGiving and ActonPrinciples, Queer Rising and GetEQUAL. I am beyond excited to join everyone in Memphis, and only hope I can control my enthusiasm as we build an amazing alliance for our civil rights equality!”

Tiffani Bishop, Texas
“I am bringing two years of organizing experience and a passion the size of Texas to the training! I hope to collaborate with other organizers to determine the best strategy going forward to reach our goal of FULL federal equality, and develop action plans to carry out those strategies. Texas might be the Lone Star State, but GetEQUAL Texas organizers are all about national collaboration!”

Tim Salyers, Minnesota
“Truth should never be allowed to be silenced.  I’ll bring a fighting spirit and winning voice to speak for those who cannot speak.  I’ll leave with the ability to implement the power of truth over oppression.”

Tom Morgan, Ohio
“I’m bringing to Memphis the 52 years I’ve spent on this earth as a gay man who wants CHANGE in my country. I’m thrilled about getting to meet so many people I admire in one location! I want to GetTRAINED so that I can help effect change to the end that no one ever has to go through what I have simply because they live their life honestly.”

Will Welch, Wyoming
“I have been politically active for years and I became especially active in lgbt equality, with the support of GetEQUAL, this past winter when a local hate group tried to (and almost succeeded in) passing anti-gay legislation in my already not so gay-friendly state. We won that time, but I have to do more than defend my status as a second-class citizen from further degradation. I am interested in doing things that are immediately effective, changing people’s minds about the importance and urgency of lgbt equality, making people move, affecting the political landscape to actualize exclusion of hate groups from political influence.”

Zach Magee, Mississippi
“I’m a gay man in Hattiesburg with a drive to change the world! Since my state is one of the least progressive states in the country, Mississippi needs as many people fighting for equality as possible. I hope to learn everything I can during this training to help me to be a leader for my state in our fight for full federal equality.”

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