2013 KFTC Annual Report

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2013 Annual Report


Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a community of people working together to build New Power.

Building New Power

KFTC Annual Meeting 2013

Who We Are Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a community of people, inspired by a vision, working together to build New Power and a better future for all of us. We organize for a fair economy, a healthy environment, new safe energy and an honest democracy. We have 13 chapters and members in more than 100 Kentucky counties. KFTC P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743 (606) 878-2161 www.kftc.org

Letter from the Chair

CONTENTS The year in pictures .................2-3

Dear Friends, At KFTC we often say that last year was our biggest year ever. But 2013 was truly a remarkable year for this organization that began 32 years ago with a handful of determined folks in eastern Kentucky. In 2013 we grew our membership to 8,000 people – from Bowling Green to Whitesburg, Covington to Somerset, Louisville to Lexington. We held our largest annual meeting ever – at a new time (August) and in a new location (General Butler State Park).

Campaigns Appalachian Transition .............................4 Renew East Kentucky ...............................5 Sustainable Energy ..................................6 Suzanne Tallichet KFTC Chairperson

Canary Project .........................................7 Bluegrass Pipeline ...................................8 Voting Rights ............................................9

We held our fourth successful Growing Appalachia conference in March. And we hosted the groundbreaking Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in April, advancing the conversation about a just transition in the mountains. Our members continued to lead that conversation throughout the year and brought our ideas to the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) summit hosted by Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers in December.

Economic Justice ....................................10

When the specter of a natural gas liquids pipeline came to central Kentucky, residents in affected areas called KFTC. We helped these communities organize to oppose the pipeline, navigate legislative issues and plan events.

Organizational Development ..................13

We continued to hold coal companies accountable both in the courts and through our citizen water testing workshops. We also challenged state officials when they proposed changes in the laws regulating selenium levels in mine runoff. And our members marched in Washington, DC, demanding stricter EPA enforcement actions in coal-impacted communities. We elevated our campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to former felons once they’ve served their debt to society – training spokespersons, meeting with legislators, and turning out in force for a hearing in Frankfort. We worked with allies to pass a fairness ordinance in Morehead and to build support for such ordinances in Berea, Danville, Shelbyville and more. In the meantime, we advanced our efforts for clean energy, rural electric co-op reform, and tax reform. As usual, our chapters continued their fundraising with various events and house parties. We launched an additional “Power Builder” strategy to help us reach our fundraising goals as we moved into a new year. The work wasn’t easy, but we were energized by the hope, heart and determination of our family of members. And we bring all of this work with us into 2014, guided by our shared vision of a better Kentucky.

Strategies Leadership Development .......................11 Communications .....................................12 Voter Empowerment ..............................14 Building Chapters ...................................15 Building Alliances ...................................16 Looking Forward ......................17

KFTC’s Vision Statement We have a vision. We are working for a day when Kentuckians – and all people – enjoy a better quality of life. When the lives of people and communities matter before profits. When our communities have good jobs that support our families without doing damage to the water, air, and land. When companies and the wealthy pay their share of taxes and can’t buy elections. When all people have health care, shelter, food, education, and other basic needs. When children are listened to and valued. When discrimination is wiped out of our laws, habits, and hearts. And when the voices of ordinary people are heard and respected in our democracy.

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A year of hope, determination, vision ...

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progress, results, change

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We’ve come a long way since we launched the Canary Project in 2003 with the express purpose of building a better future beyond coal. Ten years later, we’re leading a conversation about Appalachia’s bright future. Our fourth Growing Appalachia conference in March brought 100 people to Prestonsburg for workshops and conversations on small-scale farming, sustainable forestry, and clean energy. In April we hosted the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in Harlan. The threeday event brought together more than 200 people from as far away as Wales, Newfoundland and Black Mesa and as near as Whitesburg, Hippo, and Lynch. The energy, tone and vision were groundbreaking. Building on that momentum, KFTC members in Benham reached out to help jump-start greater local investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Together with local officials, the communityowned utility, and a range of allies, we’re working to implement innovative solutions to create jobs while generating energy and economic savings.

KFTC member Todd Howard, a farmer from Hippo in Floyd County, spoke at the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference.

The conversation grew and deepened, and we saw our messages, including the words “bright future,” spread. The landscape began to shift from a “war on coal” debate to an honest conversation about what comes next and how we get there. Our members were ready when Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers announced a planning process called Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR). Dozens of KFTC members attended the SOAR summit in December and shared a 14-point plan for a just transition.

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Member Cody Montgomery (second from left) led a workshop on collecting wild edibles and medicinals in September in Floyd County.


Ray Tucker’s campaign included a website (rayforsouthkentucky.com) that still advocates for co-op reform.

RENEW EAST KENTUCKY When KFTC and allies stopped East Kentucky Power Cooperative from building a coal-burning power plant in 2010, the agreement created a collaborative among EKPC, its 16 distribution co-ops, and public interest groups to explore clean energy options. After two years of working together toward a clean energy portfolio, the Clean Energy Collaborative finished its official run in October. Two KFTC members, Tona Barkley and Steve Wilkins, played leading roles, and the co-ops joined us around the table as we explored the potential and the complexities of bringing clean energy to Kentucky. Such cooperation would not have seemed possible three years ago. Though the Collaborative has officially ended, participants plan to continue meeting to advance wind, solar and hydroelectric, develop an energy ambassadors program, and more.

Shelby chapter members Sonia McElroy (left), Patrick King and Nancy Reinhart at the Shelby Energy Co-op meeting in November

KFTC member Tona Barkley with Owen Electric CEO Mark Stallons at the last Clean Energy Collaborative meeting

Another key piece of Renew East Kentucky is co-op reform. Shelby County KFTC members continued their campaign to pass a members’ bill of rights in the Shelby Energy Cooperative that would require open meetings, open records, and open and fair elections. In the South Kentucky RECC, KFTC member Ray Tucker ran for a board seat, and though he didn’t win, his vision and enthusiasm galvanized our members. As Ray wrote in a reflection on our blog: Although I did not win the seat, we got our message out, and I think the message of open meetings, published minutes and clean energy options is heard in our co-op and will be demanded by the members, if not embraced by the board, in the near future.

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KFTC’s work on sustainable energy policy is anchored in the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA), which we co-founded with allies in 2009. The alliance now has 54 members. KFTC staff and grassroots leaders provided support and leadership for KySEA throughout the year. KySEA members have worked together to develop the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, which would establish a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) and a feed-in tariff for Kentucky. During the 2013 legislative session, our members and allies testified in a committee hearing about the bill’s potential to create jobs and save energy. In the summer and fall, we offered a three-part workshop series about clean energy issues and opportunities to promote clean energy solutions in Kentucky, with detailed information about the rapidly changing economic, energy and political landscape. One workshop focused on ways citizens can promote clean energy solutions within their local communities, including ideas for collaborating and advocating with utilities and local governments. The second workshop focused on local actions to promote clean energy and provided information on utilities in Kentucky and the role of the Public Service Commission. And the final workshop addressed ways to make an effective case for clean energy policies at the state level. KFTC members in Harlan County continued ongoing work with the City of Benham and other allies to develop a community-wide energy efficiency program and implement renewable energy projects that would be owned by and benefit the community of Benham.

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Wilderness Trace members participated in a renewable energy forum in September.

Cara Cooper (left), Barbara Warner, and J.P. Brantley attended a clean energy workshop hosted by the Wilderness Trace chapter in November.


CANARY PROJECT In 2013, the Canary Project marked 10 years of work to build a better future beyond coal. For the last decade our members have become experts on mining laws and held the feet of regulatory agencies to the fire. We’ve traveled the region and the country learning about extractive industries and demonstrating for justice and protection. We’ve gone to court to hold the industry accountable and helped local people test their own water. We increasingly see a future beyond coal on the horizon. One of our proudest achievements in 2013 was helping the community of Mill Creek in Letcher County get municipal water to 70 homes using the Safe Drinking Water Act. And another 20 homes on Mill Creek are likely to get clean water soon.

From top: More than a thousand KFTC members and friends came to Frankfort for I Love Mountains Day 2013. Eastern Kentuckians learned about the Clean Water Act and how to test their own water at four community workshops. KFTC members participated in a sit-in during the Alliance for Appalachia’s Week in Washington in May.

Members also continued municipal water testing in three counties. We used the data to talk about coal issues and urge the state to do more testing and upgrading of municipal water systems. We worked to prevent a rule change that would weaken the water quality standard for selenium discharged into waterways from mining sites, testifying in Frankfort and Washington D.C. The state ultimately approved the bad rule, but along with allies we filed suit against the EPA to reverse it. In the meantime, our Canary Leaders were all over the country, at the Alliance for Appalachia’s Week in Washington, the Our Power conference with the Black Mesa Water Coalition in Arizona, Power Shift in Pittsburgh, the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council meeting in Atlanta, and other national convenings on coal and energy.

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KFTC responded quickly in the late spring when residents began organizing to oppose the proposed Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline that would run through several areas where we have chapters and members. The proposed pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from Ohio to Louisiana and through more than two dozen Kentucky counties. The dangers of NGLs, the company’s poor safety record, and the connection to the harmful fracking industry convinced many landowners that the pipeline was a bad idea. KFTC helped navigate legislative issues, organize events, plan agendas, prepare speakers, engage the media, write op-eds, and work with groups local and statewide to develop strategy. We helped communities discover their power through civic engagement and community organizing. For example, when community members wanted to deliver a signed petition to the governor’s office, KFTC took a lead role in coordinating the work to see the idea through to a successful event. A number of new – including young – leaders have emerged in this campaign. Several expressed sentiments like “my life will never be the same” because of the deeper understanding they’ve gained about how decisions get made, how their vote next time will really matter, and their own ability to effect change. In 2014 we’ll push the state legislature to clarify eminent domain laws to ensure that a private company such as the Bluegrass Pipeline LLC can’t condemn property. And we’ll continue to support communities organizing to prevent the pipeline.

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More than 100 people met on the steps of the state capitol on August 7 before delivering petitions with 5,252 signatures asking the governor to help protect the public from the Bluegrass Pipeline.

Shelby members Leslie McBride (left) and Lisa Aug at the Energy for Change rally in Louisville in June


VOTING RIGHTS We elevated our work to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society. After years of organizing around this issue, we continued to educate Kentuckians, including elected officials, and build momentum to pass a bill in the legislature that would place the issue on the statewide ballot. We believe the bill has its best chance to pass in 2014. Fifteen KFTC leaders participated in a four-part spokesperson training last fall. Our curriculum focused on messaging and framing about our voting rights campaign, effective one-to-one conversations, communicating with journalists and the media, and conversations with legislators.

Rally for voting rights, March 2013 in the capitol rotunda in Frankfort

In October we helped coordinate testimony before a joint interim committee of the Kentucky legislature. This was the first time in at least a decade that members of the Senate had heard testimony on this issue. KFTC member Tayna Fogle, a directly affected voter, testified along with Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center for Justice and Rev. Dean Bucalos of Luther Luckett Christian Church in Louisville. We supported more than 15 KFTC members to attend a ticketed event in Louisville featuring Congressman John Lewis – an opportunity to highlight the issue of voting rights before that audience.

Singing for Democracy events celebrated voting rights through song and dance.

Central Kentucky members worked with the LexingtonFayette Urban County Council to pass a resolution supporting restoration of voting rights for former felons.

And KFTC staff and grassroots leaders provided support and leadership within the Restoration of Voting Rights Coalition throughout the year.

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We worked with allies to strengthen the network of organizations pushing for comprehensive state tax reform. We’re offering more skill-building opportunities for allies and leaders, and we’re thinking more strategically about ways to help a broader set of organizations engage and participate. KFTC members spoke out about the need to strengthen nutritional assistance such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Our leaders participated in a national awareness-raising effort, which galvanized a set of them to continue speaking out. This work empowered members to tell their own stories of economic injustice, and informed our statewide work. Southern Kentucky chapter members coordinated with Community Farm Alliance to expand access to farmers’ markets in low-income communities through a double dollars SNAP program. Southern Kentucky members also obtained a grant to produce a renters’ rights handbook that is grounded in local renters’ experiences and needed policy change. The Jefferson County chapter started important community conversations about the regressive Local Option Sales Tax. And the Central Kentucky chapter’s Economic Justice Workteam spent the summer and fall knocking on doors and talking with residents of lowincome communities of color in Lexington about issues of economic injustice impacting their lives. Then the chapter worked with residents to plan a “Let’s Talk” Community Meeting with their local councilperson. For many of the 50-plus participants, this was the first time they’d met any of their elected officials.

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Central Kentucky members made cards for Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, asking for an affordable housing trust fund.

Southern Kentucky members worked to expand farmers’ market access to SNAP recipients.


LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT In 2013 we committed to elevating and innovating Leadership Development. Staff and leaders have had more frequent and deeper discussions about what this means for our work and for the landscape. We gave significant attention to honoring KFTC’s commitment to diversity, especially within conversations about how we meet our new member and chapter development goals. We developed a group of Voting Rights Spokespeople who will continue to engage during and beyond the 2014 General Assembly. We also developed many new spokespeople around the Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference.

At the KFTC annual meeting in August, members explored the theme “This is What Democracy Looks Like.” Topics included campaign finance reform, economic democracy, immigration reform, voting rights, media and democracy, movement building, powerful citizen lobbying, art and democracy, grassroots fundraising and more.

We supported the campaign of a long-time member who ran for his rural electric cooperative board and provided scores of members with opportunities to travel and learn, from Washington D.C. to Atlanta, Pittsburgh to Arizona. We hosted four community watertesting trainings in eastern Kentucky and a series of three clean energy workshops in the Danville area. We also supported nearly 100 leaders to build KFTC’s membership through a peer-to-peer fundraising website and a series of house parties across the state. And we trained hundreds of KFTC members at our largest annual meeting ever, in August at General Butler State Park.

Eastern Kentucky members gathered for a training in January on citizen lobbying. They practiced having conversations with legislators and communicating their vision for Kentucky.

In 2014 the focus of KFTC’s leadership development program will be to support our members’ efforts to activate and engage other people to vote, take action, and become involved in KFTC. Many trainings we offer will be built around the principle that each of us has an important role to play in setting other people in motion!

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And we did what we’ve always done: published news-filled issues of balancing the scales, maintained a dynamic website, helped our members’ voices be heard in the media as spokespeople and through letters to the editor and op-eds, and more.

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Before the important Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in April 2013, we spent eight months developing and promoting a frame and messages that would focus on the opportunity of Appalachian transition and encourage collaboration among many (and often polarized) stakeholders. We saw our messages spread in both statewide and local media, the blogosphere, among our allies, and even among politicians who took the stage at the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) summit in December.

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Each year, as KFTC has grown, our communications have become more strategic, more sophisticated and more effective. We’ve worked to lead with a vision, lift up our values, and offer solutions.






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ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT We set out to engage more leaders in building our base and tried a variety of creative strategies to succeed. During the last quarter of the year alone, we recruited more new members – over 700 – than in any other quarter in our history. And by the end of the year, we had grown our membership to 8,000. In the meantime, we surpassed our grassroots fundraising goal of $500,000 by raising over $504,000. More than 70% of gifts were $50 or less — a key factor in building a large base of invested members. For perspective, ten years ago we were raising around $65,000 each year with 2,000 members.

Sharon Leone (left), Jason Brown, and Molly Kaviar at the Southern Kentucky chapter’s democracy party in November

Sisters Shekinah and Kristah Lavalle shared a Power Builder page and helped recruit new members and raise funds during the fall fundraising campaign.

After developing a healthy democracy communications framework, we launched a fall campaign with democracy parties across the state, personal online pages, phone banking, a mailing, emails, social media and more. More than 100 KFTC leaders signed on to become Power Builders by hosting either a personal fundraising page or a democracy party – or both. Members hosted 25 parties across the state, many on “non-election day,” or the day that would have been election day had Kentucky had elections in 2013. They talked about KFTC, shared their own reasons for getting involved, and drew more people into the work. Other Power Builders designed their own online pages to reach their networks through personal stories, photos, videos and individual goals. The pages ranged from poignant to playful.

KFTC members across the state, including George Eklund (left), called members and friends during the fall campaign.

We grew our membership but also deepened it with more involvement from many members. In 2014 we have a stronger base to carry our issues forward.

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Although there were few elections in Kentucky in 2013, voter empowerment was as important as ever. We’re working to grow a healthy democracy by building a broad base of registered, informed and motivated New Power voters. Members lobbied in the Kentucky legislature, talking with elected leaders – and in many cases educating them – about issues that matter. Chapters hosted lobby trainings to prepare beginners for their first trip to Frankfort. Central Kentucky members engaged in a special election in Lexington in December. We surveyed candidates and posted their responses on kentuckyelection.org, co-hosted a candidate forum, mailed postcards to remind people to vote, and made get-out-the-vote calls.

Central Kentucky member Christian Torp lobbied in Frankfort on the first day of the 2013 General Assembly.

Northern Kentucky members hosted Meet Your Elected Official nights in three communities. Twelve elected officials and 25 non-elected officials came out and talked with constituents about immigration, voting rights and more. Central Kentucky members held a “Let’s Talk” town meeting with their councilperson, and 50 people participated. And we developed a healthy democracy framework that articulated our vision for a healthy democracy, what it will take to build one, and how grassroots organizing plays an important role. We used this frame in our communications and fall fundraising campaign, and will continue to use it in 2014. 2014 is an important election year in Kentucky, with many high-profile elections at the national, state, and local levels. We’ll work to elevate our issues, hold candidates accountable, and engage many voters to take part in our democracy.

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Members registered voters on college campuses in the fall.



Northern Kentucky

Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties

Scott County Shelby County

Rowan County Big Sandy includes Floyd,

Jefferson County

Pike, Martin, Johnson, and Magoffin Counties

Wilderness Trace Mercer, Boyle, Garrard, and Lincoln Counties

Letcher County Perry County Madison County

Southern Kentucky

Harlan County

Central Kentucky includes Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, and Woodford Counties

Chapters are the building blocks of KFTC’s work, the foundation for our democratic structure, and the inspiration for our statewide campaigns. Our 13 chapters across Kentucky built power by recruiting members, addressing local issues, and supporting our statewide work. From energy to housing, clean water, recycling, fairness and more, our chapters stood up for their communities on issues that matter. Members traveled to Frankfort to lobby, supported other chapters, and represented their chapters on statewide committees.

Central Kentucky members Tanya Torp (left), Selina Finley and Isaac Benson visited the Madison County chapter meeting in June.

Members Nina Bosken, Nate Kinsman, and Tom Frank played euchre at a democracy party hosted by the Northern Kentucky chapter.

The Jefferson County chapter celebrated its 30th birthday in June.

Eastern Kentucky chapters gathered for a holiday party in December. Sylvia Ryerson (left) and Randy Wilson played music while Russell Oliver listened.

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KFTC began in 1981 when three grassroots groups realized they could accomplish more by working together. Alliances have continued to be a key strategy over the years, and in 2013 we benefitted from these relationships in every area of our work. Many allies played a role in our groundbreaking Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in April, including the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Labor Network for Sustainability, Appalshop, Community Farm Alliance, Floyd County Farmers’ Market and more. On economic justice and tax reform, we worked closely with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and other allies in the Partnership for Kentucky’s Future, particularly the Women’s Network, Advocacy Action, and Kentucky Council of Churches.

Eleven KFTC members were among 100 Kentuckians who traveled with the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August.

Our Canary Project leaders played active roles in the Alliance for Appalachia, a group of organizations in five Central Appalachian states working to end mountaintop removal and achieve a just economic transition. We finished two years of work with the Clean Energy Collaborative, which included allies such as MACED and the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, as well as 16 rural electric co-ops. These groups plan to continue meeting to advance clean energy.

KFTC members joined Bereans for Fairness in a march for fairness in September.

We provided leadership for the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance, a coalition of 54 groups ranging from environmental and housing organizations to small businesses and more. And we worked with the Restoration of Voting Rights Coalition on a strategy to pass the voting rights amendment in 2014.

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KFTC member Joanne Golden Hill at the Alliance for Appalachia’s Week in Washington in May

Looking Forward ... We entered 2014 with huge momentum and an energized membership. Our investment in leadership development, member recruitment and communications in 2013 enabled us to start strong in this important year in Kentucky. We made big strides last year in our campaigns as well, and it’s essential that we keep moving forward, especially on Appalachian transition and voting rights. As always, we’re ambitious. The list is long. • We’ll train and support 1,000 grassroots leaders to build our organization and expand our democracy. • We’ll work tirelessly to pass a voting rights bill in the General Assembly and get the issue on the statewide ballot in November. • We’ll engage thousands of members and tens of thousands of voters across the state in the important elections of 2014. • Working with allies, funders, and consultants, we’ll elevate our just transition communications strategy for 2014 to reshape the public and political discussion around coal, energy, and climate. • Building on the important Appalachian transition work in 2013, our members will be a strong voice for a just transition across eastern Kentucky, in the electric co-ops, with Benham Community Energy Project, through sustainable food efforts, and through the governor’s Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) process. • Members of the Clean Energy Collaborative will continue meeting regularly to advance clean energy in the rural electric co-ops. • Our members will continue to be a strong voice for ordinary Kentuckians on economic justice issues and experts on what’s needed for meaningful tax reform. • And we’ll keep up the pressure on the EPA, Division of Water and other agencies to protect our land and people from destructive mining, especially mountaintop removal. Throughout the year, and in many aspects of our work, we’ll lift up a vision and advance the theme of Growing A Healthy Democracy – with more people participating, accountable political leaders, better public policies, and more opportunities, right here at home.

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P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743 (606) 878-2161 www.kftc.org

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