32 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Bobolinks to Marc Chagall. Free Press to Pseudoscience.

Whether identifying clouds as animals or by their proper scientific names, families can look into the sky for opportunities to engage in meaningful cloud-inspired learning. In addition to creating a deepened sense of place through observations, families can help young scientists learn about climate, weather, and the atmosphere by tracking the things they see in the sky. Read more in our post, Cloud Studies Connect to Citizen Science, Language Learning, and Weather Studies.

Automotive History to Physics. Child Development to Journalism. Pollinators to Bicycles. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlight this week:

Typically, bicycling attire for a modern American involves flexible athletic clothing and sneakers. But at the beginning of cycling history, during the early 19th century, cyclists wore their typical, everyday clothing even when using bicycles for transport. In fact, women’s fashion of the time was a hindrance to their ability to ride, and this was a catalyst for change in women’s style of dress and in the design of the bicycle as manufacturers began marketing towards women. Learn more by reading our post, Exploring the History of Fashion through Bicycling.

You can discover what it was like to bike in traditional attire by participating in Sweet Spoken’s third annual Spring Tweed Ride on Saturday, May 21, 2pm-5pm. All ages are welcome. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

PhilosophyPlacemakingTransporation ♦ ♦ Plant SalesOrnithologyGuided WalksPoetryFashion HistoryHealth & WellnessLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesCreative-Free PlayEntomologyCultural StudiesLatin AmericaArt StudiesService-Based Learning

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Saturday, May 20, 9am-12pm
You can get some fresh air and exercise, and a bike tune-up, all while benefiting the West Springfield Partnership for Education! Come to the Bearhole Bike Ride as part of Baystate Bike Week. Participants will start off the ride at Fausey Elementary School where Colorado Ski Shop will be providing bike tune-ups and lending out some demo bikes. The ride will begin at 10am and head to Bearhole Reservoir. Cyclists will be given the option of a casual route or advanced route. Take a look at the video below to learn about the physics of a bicycle and then come to this even curious are ready to learn more about the bicycle! Email aeaton@pvpc.org for more information. 784 Amostown Road. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 21, 12pm-2pm
Do you have a vintage bicycle you like to show off? Participate in Baystate Bike Week’s Vintage Bicycle Ride to see other vintage bicycles. Vintage bikes show us how this useful tool for both leisure and transportation has changed over the years. Choose from two biking routes and you will end up on Park Square in downtown Westfield. This event helps draw attention to a much-loved invention for exercise and sustainable transport! Meet at the New Horizons Bike Shop. Register on the Baystate Bike Week website. 55 Franklin Street. Westfield, MA.

Saturday, May 21, 2pm-5pm
Typically, bicycling attire for a modern American involves flexible athletic clothing and sneakers. But at the beginning of cycling history, during the early 19th century, cyclists wore their typical, everyday clothing even when using bicycles for transport. In fact, women’s fashion of the time was a hindrance to their ability to ride, and this was a catalyst for change in women’s style of dress and in the design of the bicycle as manufacturers began marketing towards women. Learn more by reading our post, Exploring the History of Fashion through Bicycling. You can discover what it was like to bike in traditional attire by participating in Sweet Spoken’s third annual Spring Tweed Ride! All ages are welcome. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

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“The early 1900s was an amazing time for Western science, as Albert Einstein was developing his theories of relativity and psychology was born, as Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis took over the scientific mainstream. Karl Popper observed these developments firsthand and came to draw a distinction between what he referred to as science and pseudoscience, which might best be summarized as science disconfirms, while pseudoscience confirms. While the way we describe these disciplines has changed in the intervening years, Popper’s ideas speak to the heart of how we arrive at knowledge.” – CrashCourse

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Saturday, May 20, 7:30am-4pm
Before its incorporation as a town, the area now known as Longmeadow was once farmland within Springfield. In the early 19th and 20th century, Longmeadow was a site for brownstone mining; many well-known American buildings were constructed out of brownstone mined there. You can learn much more about the history of Longmeadow at the 38th annual Long Meddowe Days! On May 20 and 21, people of all ages can engage in fun, educational activities. All proceeds from the event fund future educational programs, historical research, and maintenance of the Storrs House Museum. Crafters, artists, photographers and talented youth crafters will be showcasing their work on the town green, and musical acts will perform throughout both days. The Storrs House Museum will be open both days- from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and from 12 noon to 4pm on Sunday. Tours of the Old Burying Yard in Longmeadow Cemetery by an expert local guide will take place on both days starting at 2pm. Longmeadow, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Thursday, May 25, 6pm-8pm
Meet local music fans and spend some quality outdoor time with your community at a Coop Concert in Greenfield! The summer 2017 concert series kicks off on May 25 with performers Joe Graveline, Bruce Colgrove, and The Desmond Burke Trio. Hear a range of musical genres and styles at Energy Park. You can also explore the gardens, and children will be able to play on the train structure in the children’s area. Bring a lawn chair, or set up a picnic with friends and family. 413-772-1553, 50 Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 26, 5:30pm-6:30pm
Singing releases both endorphins and oxytocin, leaving the singer more relaxed. Oxytocin also causes a feeling of bonding with others. Combine singing with a sense of community and you are bound to experience a strong sense of belonging. The Sunderland Public Library is hosting a community sing, for people of all ages and abilities. Lyrics will be provided. 413- 665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

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Saturday, May 20, 8am-10am
Do you enjoy learning about collector, classic and custom vehicles? The second annual Wheels and Waffles event at Eastern States Exposition will feature a diverse car show and live, classic music from the 50s and 60s. Anyone who arrives in a show vehicle will receive complimentary breakfast and coffee. Car and transportation shows can teach people about automotive technology, while the presence of vintage cars provides insight into technological history. Weather permitting. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

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Plant Sales

Plant sales & swaps happen all over western Massachusetts this time of year. From big to small events, many raising funds for valuable community resources, plant sales are an excellent opportunity for sourcing your plants (and gardening knowledge) locally. They are terrific community events for learning tips on plants and gardening from both home gardeners and experts in the field! Bring your family to a plant sale this weekend and unearth the embedded learning they hold for the entire family! Read more in our post, Plant Sales & Swap Support Local Causes & Embedded Learning.

Saturday, May 20, 8:30am-2:30pm
Plant sales offer the opportunity to support local horticulturalists and exchange knowledge as well as goods! If you need plants for your spring and summer gardening, come to the Garden Club of Amherst’s annual Plant Sale! The sale will be held rain or shine and funds from the sale will support beautification projects, an annual UMass scholarship, and contributions to local conservation and education organizations. You can choose from a wide selection of plants donated by local gardeners. Under the tent on the Amherst Common. Amherst, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 20, 9am-3pm
Spring and summer are great times for outdoor reading- in your yard, in the park, at the beach- you can get vitamin D while you read! This is also the time of year for collaborative consumption in the form of community-based markets. Buy your next round of books and plants at the Sunderland Public Library’s Book Plant and Bake sale to support your positive hobbies and the library simultaneously. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Sunderland Public Library’s Book Fund. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, May 20, 9am-5pm
Tending to a family garden or even just watering house plants can teach kids about responsibility and various branches science at the same time! Bringing your child along to a plant sale, he or she will learn about habitat and ecology as you pick out plants that will thrive in the conditions of your home and yard. The Berkshire Botanical Garden’s annual plant sale, Plants and Answers, will provide thousands of woody and herbaceous plants for purchase, as well as expert advice. The plants will be displayed by habitat and include plants for sunny areas, beds and borders, dry areas, plants for the woodland edge, and woodland plants, as well as annuals, tropical plants, and vines. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road. Stockbridge, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

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Springtime is filled with sightings of all kinds of exciting natural wonders. The season’s outdoor appeal makes it a perfect time of year not only for enjoying our natural surroundings, but for learning about conservation and species preservation, too! In particular, springtime is the season for bird sightings as Western Massachusetts becomes filled with a variety of migrating bird species in the early spring months. Species to look for in the spring include Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Whip-Poor-Wills, American Kestrels, Indigo Buntings, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Carolina Wrens, American Goldfinches, Great Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, and many others! Knowing the names of the birds we share our home with and being able to identify them by their songs and behavior helps us connect to the seasons and strengthens our sense of place. Read more in our Season: March & April issue of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.

Saturday, May 20, 7am-9am
Spring marks the arrival of warblers, sparrows, thrushes, and other migratory birds. Learning to identify them by sight and sound can add a new layer of appreciation to the spring season. Lime Kiln Wildlife Sanctuary’s education coordinator will be offering guided morning walks on the trails to teach participants how to identify species of local birds. If time permits participants may also check other nearby birding hot-spots. Bring binoculars; beginners are welcome. This program is best suited for adults. 413-637-0320. Silver Street. Sheffield, MA. (Members FREE; Nonmembers <$)

Sunday, May 21, 2pm-3:30pm
Writers of all genres have historically drawn inspiration from nature. Looking at a single natural creature through the perspective of different authors can help you to learn about both biology and literature. The Bobolink is a grassland bird which Emily Dickinson, William Cullen Bryant, and many other poets have written about. In his presentation, “The Poet’s Bobolink,” David Spector will teach listeners about biology and poetry. Weather permitting, participants will also step outside to hear descendants of these bobolinks at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. 413-532-1631. 207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (Non-member $; Member <$)

Wednesday, May 24, 7am-9am
Spring and fall are the best times of year for bird-watching if you want to learn about migratory birds. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s caretaker Jonathan Pierce will be offering a spring bird watching guided walk for adults on Wednesdays in May. Participants will walk past beaver wetlands and through the woods to identify warblers, tanagers, orioles, and other species. Beginners are welcome. Bring binoculars. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 26, 7am-9am
Spring and fall are the best times of year for bird-watching if you want to learn about migratory birds. You can learn to identify the beautiful wood-warblers, orioles, thrushes, and more on spring birding walks at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. Sanctuary Volunteer and Hoffmann Bird Club leader Noreen Mole will guide participants past wetlands and through meadows and woodlands, observing changes in ecology and bird species each week. Bring binoculars; beginners welcome. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

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Health & Wellness

Monday, May 22, 9:30am-10:15am
Practicing yoga at any age can connect you to your body and help you be more mindful. Starting young, kids can discover that yoga is a lot of fun and will possibly develop a lifelong love of the activity. The Community Network for Children is offering a family yoga series ideal for kids ages two to five. Baby siblings are also welcome. The class will use music to guide kids through movements and postures while singing familiar songs. Kids will imitate different animals in their poses and complete a fun obstacle course. There will be five sessions, on April 24, May 1, 8, 15, and 22. Registration is required call 978-544-5157. Sessions take place at the Leverett Library. 75 Montague Road. Leverett, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, May 23, 6:30pm-8pm
Qigong is a form of mindful, light exercise. This internal art practice is a combination of two key ideas: Qi, the breath and vital energy that flows through the universe, and Gong, which refers to the skill of cultivating self-discipline. Makani Freitas will be leading a Qigong-Movement Meditation workshop designed to reduce stress and increase relaxation. Try it for the first time or expand your practice by attending this workshop at River Valley Co-Op. Registration is required. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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Language Arts

Monday, May 22, 10am-12pm
A memoir is a literary genre which helps the author make sense of his or her life, by creating a narrative from their experiences. Reading memoir opens us up to a world of true life experiences beyond our own limited one. John Sheirer is the author of the memoirs Loop Year and Growing up Mostly Normal in the Middle of Nowhere. He will read from and discuss these works, as well as offer guidance on the topic of writing memoir, then lead participants in writing exercises. Visit glenmeadow.org for more information. Seating is limited, and registration is required; call 413-567-7800 or email learning@glenmeadow.org. The program will be offered by Glenmeadow at Bay Path University on its East Campus in the Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center, Room 222. The center is at 1 Denslow Road. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Monday, May 22, 4pm
Reading fiction is an enjoyable way to expand your understanding of the world and gain perspective of cultural experiences outside your own. The 2017 young adult novel, Lucky Broken Girl, is a multicultural coming-of-age story based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s. The book tells the story of a Cuban-Jewish immigrant adjusting to life in New York City. Young readers can use this book to think about multicultural perspectives while becoming engrossed in a compelling story of resilience. Author, Ruth Behar, will be discussing her work in a talk at the Odyssey Bookshop. This is her first book for young readers. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, May 24, 4:30pm-5:30pm
Does your teen or tween love to read? T(w)eens are invited to a book club at the Meekins Library to meet other book lovers and discuss what they’ve read! On May 24, participants will discuss the historical fiction book, The Fighting Ground, the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who, in 1778, longs to go off to fight the British. Readers will learn about history and share their opinions on the book while making new friends. The book will be available for checkout at the library. Registration is required. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, May 25, 5pm-6:15pm
Over the past several decades and generations, the typical roles and lives of women have changed drastically. While most women would agree that these changes are positive, grappling with the endless possibilities of career, love, and family poses new challenges. Ariel Levy explores this topic through her own story, the story of being “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses,” in her memoir The Rules Do Not Apply. You can hear her discuss her book in conversation with journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick, at The Mount. 413-551-5111. 2 Plunkett Street. Lenox, MA. ($)

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Music Studies

Monday, May 22, 6:30pm-8:30pm
School music programs constantly face budget cuts. While schools must follow legal standards and requirements for teaching subjects such as English and mathematics, schools are not required to teach the arts. Thus they are the first to go when funds are insufficient. It is important to understand that learning to play a musical instrument is not just a fun, educational activity in and of itself; it can improve competency in other academic subjects and life skills. The “Music Matters” Seminar at South County Center will serve to teach attendees about the importance of music to a child’s growth and development. Parents who attend will learn how to best assist their children in their musical learning. Seminar leaders Karen Berger and David Hodge will reference numerous studies which demonstrate how music education benefits overall intelligence and helps youth perform better in other studies. They will also speak to the social benefits of music, such as teamwork, goal setting, and time management. For more information, call BCC’s South County Center at 413- 528-4521. 343 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Monday, May 22, 7pm
Jazz stands out from other genres in many ways. Rather than consisting of a single catchy chorus repeated between verses throughout the song (as in most modern popular music), jazz songs tend, to begin with, a chorus accompanied by a melody known as the “head.” This melody can be repeated or throughout or played only once more at the end of the song. Jazz musicians tend to know a wide array of “standard” songs such that a group of jazz musicians could get together, call a tune, and play immediately. This genre frequently features improvisation, such that no two performances of the same song sound quite the same! Jazz also has many sub-genres and has evolved considerably over several decades. You can attend the final Music Mondays Cafe at the Gaylord Memorial Library. to hear both jazz standards and contemporary originals. Singer, songwriter and pianist Champain Fulton has toured internationally and released two albums. She will be joined on trumpet by Stephen Fulton and on bass by Dor Samoha. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. ($)

Thursday, May 25, 8pm
Ludwig van Beethoven and Claude Debussy each wrote works for strings, in the early 19th century. You can compare these works with a contemporary string composition at the Omer Quartet’s Spring concert. They will be performing Claude Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10 (1893), Beethoven’s String Quartet No.15, Op. 132 (1825), and Rocco Havelaar’s String Quartet No. 4 (2016). This concert is held in conjunction with the Mead Art Museum’s special exhibition: “Collector’s Journey: Highlights from the Print Collection of Dr. William A. Weary, Class of 1964.” Attending this event provides an opportunity to draw connections between art, music, and local history. Buckley Recital Hall. Arms Music Center at Amherst College. 53 College Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

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Creative-Free Play

Tuesday, May 23, 9:30am-11am
The average American child spends about thirty minutes of their day in unstructured, outdoor play, and more than seven hours in front of a screen (see this report for more information). Most people intuitively understand the connection between time spent in nature and positive well-being. Fresh air and exercise keep our bodies in shape and our minds focused. But did you know that time spent outdoors in childhood is also correlated with better distance vision? For young, developing children, the benefits are endless. You and your child can increase your time spent outdoors by participating in a nature playgroup at Naumkeag. The playgroup is best-suited for three to six-year-olds. It is not stroller friendly, though babies in arms are welcome. Participants, both children, and caregivers can expect to get very dirty and explore some of the most remote corners of the property. Registration is required. Call 413-298-3239 ex 3013. 5 Prospect Hill. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, May 24, 6pm-7:30pm
Reading opens up a world of learning, relaxing entertainment, and much more. Reading fiction, in particular, strengthens the reader’s empathetic skills. In order to understand and enjoy a novel, the reader must consider various characters’ perspectives, an important lifelong skill! You can encourage literacy skills with your young children, not only by reading but also talking, playing, and singing! Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a four-session workshop (on May 3, 10, 17 and 24) on the importance of literacy, teaching parents and children fun activities they can do together. Register on the Collaborative for Educational Services website. Call 413-586-4900 for more information. Clapp Memorial Library. 19 South Main Street. Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 26, 10:30am
Books have more components than just covers and pages! Do you know where the gutter is located? What about the flyleaf, the end sheets, the dedication page? All ages are welcome to this “Parts of a Book” storytime to learn about the parts of a book, listen to a story, and sing. Participants will also build their own books to take home! Gaylord Memorial Library. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Friday, May 26, 5pm-7pm
Berkshire Botanical Garden’s opening reception: PlayDate: Play Houses in the Garden. Meet the designers and builders who have re-imagined playhouse structures and tour the exhibition of 12 installations ranging from an antique aviary tea party to a three-sided rustic fire hut. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

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“In the past decade, the US honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. While this is obviously bad news for honeypots everywhere, bees also help feed us in a bigger way — by pollinating our nation’s crops. Emma Bryce investigates potential causes for this widespread colony collapse disorder.” – TED-Ed

Tuesday, May 23, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Thanks to environmental activists and concerned citizens, people are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that bee populations have been declining at a dangerous rate for more than a decade. Climate change has caused some plant and animal species to migrate, negatively affecting a once thriving habitat for bees. Why should humans work to prevent threats to bees? Potential endangerment of bee species could be devastating for many species since bees are the main pollinators for many fruits and nuts. One thing you can do to help local pollinators thrive is to attract them to your garden. Ashley Schenk of Broadfork Permaculture will be teaching attendees about the best plants for attracting pollinators, in a workshop at the Sunderland Public Library. In her presentation, she will discuss how to choose plants and shrubs to thrive in your yard’s conditions, as well as planting techniques and tips for creating wildflower meadows. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

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Cultural Studies

Wednesday, May 24, 4pm-7pm
Want to learn about Latin American culture, past, and present? A panel discussion at Smith College entitled,”Place and Practice: History, Geography, and the New Latin American Studies,” will provide multiple perspectives on this topic. Panelists for the symposium will explore several aspects of Latin American history and geography through new digital and quantitative data technologies. Attend this symposium to learn about both Latin America and new research technologies. Seelye 201. 2 Seelye Drive. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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Art Studies

Thursday, May 25, 12:15pm
The early 20th century brought about vast and varying artistic movements such as cubism and surrealism. Russian painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985) drew upon folklore and fantasy in his art, and was later influenced by a group of artists he met in Paris. Curatorial Assistant Maggie North will be giving a talk on Chagall’s artwork, focusing on the movements of cubism and surrealism, at the Springfield Museums. Stick around for a guided gallery discussion at 1:30pm. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (<$)

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Service-Based Learning

Thursday, May 25, 5pm-7pm
Food security is a year-round, 24/7 issue, and it’s always a good time to volunteer your time to help members of your community obtain food. Participate in a Family Volunteer Day at Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Hatfield facility, a monthly program spearheaded by Hilltown Families in collaboration with the Food Bank in 2015 which continues today. Families will work together sorting donated food items. Join us for meaningful work, meet other like-minded families, and give back to your community. Volunteer Days are an opportunity for intergenerational bonding and to demonstrate the importance of volunteer work to your children. Volunteering can also boost self-esteem and instill feelings of gratitude for what we have- both key components to personal happiness! Children of all ages are welcome. To sign up, please email the Volunteer Coordinator at alisonb@foodbankwma.org. 97 North Hatfield Road. Hatfield MA. (VOLUNTEER)

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Thursday, May 25, 5:30pm
Can you trust the media? Is free speech under attack? These are questions being asked by politicians as well as citizens, both liberals and conservatives. Free speech and a free press are core American values, solidified in the Constitution’s First Amendment. American journalism today is facing great challenges to their reporting. The Norman Rockwell Museum is bringing together expert speakers to discuss this issue. Speakers include Jim Levulis, Associate News Director, WAMC Northeast Public Radio; and Tammy Daniels, Managing Editor, iBerkshires.com. All are welcome to attend. 413-298-4100. 9 Glendale Road. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

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[Photo credit: (cc) Noah B. Kaplan]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Belchertown, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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