A Quest for Life : An Autobiography

A Quest for Life : An AutobiographyAuthor(s): Ian L. McHarg, Stewart L. Udall

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0471086282

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A Quest for Life : An Autobiography (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design)

Hardcover
Publication date: April 1996

n the foreword to this thoroughly enjoyable book, Stewart Udall, President Kennedy’s secretary of the interior, describes McHarg as a person who “developed an holistic method of ecological planning that has made possible a crucial change in the way environmental decisions are made.” McHarg did this and more. His first book, Design with Nature, helped create the field of ecological planning and is still in print 30 years later. The present volume is the autobiography of a most extraordinary and productive man. Many of McHarg’s projects are well known, for example, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Battery Park in New York City; all demonstrate that development can be integrated successfully with aesthetics and environmental concern while improving quality of life. Beyond describing his award-winning projects, McHarg recounts his own growth and development, which mirrors that of the discipline he gave life to. Many of the anecdotes related in this humorous and often scathing book demonstrate why McHarg has been described as “hyperbolic” and “belligerent.” The only shortcoming: the reader is left with the sense that McHarg believes he has neither made a misstep nor misspoken in his illustrious career.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description

“Show me any civilization that believes that reality exists only because man can perceive it, that the cosmos was erected to support man on its pinnacle, that man is exclusively divine, and then I will predict the nature of his cities and its landscapes, the hot dog stands, the neon shill, the ticky-tacky houses, the sterile core, the mined and ravaged countryside. This is the image of anthropocentric man. He seeks not unity with nature but conquest, yet unity he finds, when his arrogance and ignorance are stilled and he lies dead under the greensward.” Ian L. McHarg Multiply and Subdue the Earth, 1969

“No living American has done more to usher the gentle science of ecology out of oblivion and into mainstream thought than Ian McHarg—a teacher, philosopher, designer, and activist who changed the way we view and shape our environment.” From the foreword by Stewart L. Udall

Published in cooperation with the Center for American Places, Harrisonburg, Virginia

A Quest for Life is the autobiography of a man who stands alongside Rachel Carson, Lewis Mumford, and Aldo Leopold as one of the giants of the environmental movement. In a robust and singular voice, Ian McHarg recounts the story of a life that has foreshadowed and eventually shaped environmental consciousness in the twentieth century. Along the way we meet prominent figures in the environmental movement, the design fields, and the government, from Walter Gropius to Lady Bird Johnson, all presented in rich and telling anecdotes.

Early in A Quest for Life McHarg presents us with an arresting image. Describing the view from his boyhood home on the outskirts of Glasgow, he tells us that in one direction he could see the industrial miasma of smokestacks, tenements, and treeless streets, and, in another, the glories of the Scottish countryside. “I was born and bred,” he writes, “on a fulcrum with two poles, city and countryside.” Confronted with such a stark contrast, the man who was to become “the founder of ecological planning” began at an early age to turn literally from inhumane urban development and toward the beauty and power of Nature.

Each chapter of this book illuminates key stages in McHarg’s life and in the evolution of his environmental awareness. We see him as a youth standing on a hillside beside the impressive Donald Wintersgill who, with the wave of his cane, lays out an entire village complete with lakes and forests, and thus introduces the astonished McHarg to the profession of landscape architecture.

In some of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War he witnesses the magnitude of human destructive capability. Later, when he faces a crisis of conscience over his religious training and its exhortation to gain dominion over life and subdue the earth, he begins to develop a deep spiritual appreciation for the sanctity of Nature itself. His training as a designer and planner in the Modernist Bauhaus tradition, with its neglect of the environment; his bouts with tuberculosis that showed him the link between public health and city planning; his famous “Man—The Planetary Disease” speech before powerful industrialists—all stand as emblematic of battles that are still being fought today.

A Quest for Life also chronicles the many triumphs in McHarg’s career. It offers fresh insight into the revolutionary design method behind his groundbreaking book, Design with Nature, and explores the development of geographical information systems. We learn firsthand about his work on the celebrated regional plans for Denver and the Twin Cities, as well as the Woodlands new town project. His most enduring contribution, however, may prove to be his four decades of teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. Through the generations of landscape architects, designers, and planners he taught there, his influence has spread around the world and into the future.

As the compelling, first-person story of a remarkable individual who not only manned the barricades against environmental destruction, but helped lay the foundation for the barricades themselves, A Quest for Life is must reading for landscape architects, designers, conservationists, planners, and others concerned with the preservation of our communities and the natural environment.

Customer Comments
rating=10:
The life of the founder of ecological design, a great read!

Ian McHarg is the founder of the field of environmental design, a branch of or approach to Landscape Architecture. His book “Design With Nature” opened the eyes of a generation of planners and architects to the possibilities of environmentally sane design and planning. McHarg’s autobiography makes a wonderful read for anyone who read and loved “Design With Nature”. And is is a first class read! He has never been a man who pulled his punches, and this book is full of hilarious stories of his run-ins with the establishment. I loved it!

Visions For a New American Dream: Process, Principles, and an Ordinance to Plan and Design Small Communities

Visions For a New American Dream: Process, Principles, and an Ordinance to Plan and Design Small Communities

Author(s): Anton C. Nelessen

Publisher: Planners Press

ISBN: 1884829007

ISBN-13: 978-1884829000

374 pages

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This book shows you how to combine the best design principles of the past with the technological advances of the present to achieve a more satisfying community environment. Nelessen advocates design by democracy: involving citizens and public officals in planning and designing their own communities. He describes techniques planners can use to help residents create a common vision. Nelessen has successfully used these techniques-the Visual Preference Survey and Hands-on Model Building Workshop-in seminars and workshops for more than 25 years. ?Visions for a New American Dream ? outlines a seven step planning and design process for creating three basic types of traditional small communities: hamlets, villages, and neighborhoods. Nelessen presents 10 design principles-ranging from humanism and ecological responsibility to open space design and community focus-to help planners and designers turn a community’s common vision into reality. ?Visions for a New American Dream ? is extensively illustrated with photographs, diagrams, and maps. This is must reading for all planners, designers, public officals, and citizens who want to envision and direct the future of their communities.

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century

Author(s): James Howard Kunstler

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 0684811960

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Home from Nowhere : Remaking Our Everyday World for the Twenty-First Century

Hardcover
320 pages
October 1996

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Deep down, many Americans are dissatisfied with suburbia — though they have trouble understanding what’s missing, writes James Howard Kunstler in this semi-sequel to his critically-acclaimed Geography of Nowhere. Much of this engaging book tries to fill in the holes. Modernist architecture and inhumane zoning laws have made suburbanites prisoners to a car culture that is overly friendly to ugly strip malls and actively hostile to the development of healthy, vibrant communities, says Kunstler. We must return to the idea of Main Street America, where people live, work and shop among neighbors they know and trust. Here’s how.

The New York Times Book Review, Alexander Garvin
Kunstler’s is the latest in a long line of polemics that employ colorful writing and vivid illustrations to decry the ugliness that pervades the American landscape.

From Booklist , October 15, 1996
In The Geography of Nowhere (1993), Kunstler, a novelist, ardent and perceptive citizen-observer, and masterful rhetorician, began his study of why suburbs, neglected Main Streets, and squandered cities are so bereft of beauty. Here, he continues his critique of American architecture, culture, and values and, in the process, identifies the source of the malaise people experience in and around the hideous structures that make every suburb resemble every other suburb. This degradation of the public realm is, Kunstler vehemently declares, nothing less than the degradation of the common good. Leaving aside architectural issues for the moment, Kunstler launches into a provocative discussion of the consequences of becoming consumers rather than citizens, of abandoning the community for an addiction to television, and of the corporate colonization of cities and the countryside. After both riling and delighting the reader with his ire, brilliance, and candor, Kunstler returns to the subject of buildings and chronicles the quiet growth of New Urbanism, a smart and hopeful trend toward improving American life. Donna Seaman Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved

To Heal the Earth: Selected Writings Of Ian L. McHarg

To Heal the Earth: Selected Writings Of Ian L. McHarg

Author(s): Ian L. McHarg, Friederick R. Steiner, Robert D. Yaro

Publisher: Island Press

ISBN: 1559635738

ISBN-13: 978-1559635738

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To Heal the Earth: Selected Writings of Ian McHarg

Hardcover, 310 pages
Publication date: June 1998

Ian L. McHarg’s landmark book Design with Nature changed the face of landscape architecture and planning by promoting the idea that the design of human settlements should be based on ecological principles. McHarg was one of the earliest and most influential proponents of the notion that an understanding of the processes that form landscapes should underlie design decisions.

In To Heal the Earth, McHarg has joined with Frederick Steiner, a noted scholar of landscape architecture and planning, to bring forth a valuable cache of his writings produced between the 1950s and the 1990s. McHarg and Steiner have each provided original material that links the writings together, and places them within the historical context of planning design work and within the larger field of ecological planning as practiced today.

The book moves from the theoretical-beginning with the 1962 essay “Man and Environment” which sets forth the themes of religion, science, and creativity that emerge and reappear throughout McHarg’s work-to the practical, including discussions of methods and techniques for ecological planning as well as case studies. Other sections address the link between ecology and design, and the issue of ecological planning at a regional scale, covering topics such as education and training necessary to develop the field of ecological planning, how to organize and arrange biophysical information to reveal landscape patterns, the importance of incorporating social factors into ecological planning, and more.

To Heal the Earth provides a larger framework and a new perspective on McHarg’s work that brings to light the growth and development of his key ideas over a forty year period. It is an important contribution to the literature, and will be essential reading for students and scholars of ecological planning, as well as for professional planners and landscape architects.

About the Author

Ian L. McHarg is professor emeritus and founding chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning in the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.

Frederick R. Steiner is professor and founding director of the School of Planning and Landscape Architecture in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Ethics and Urban Design: Culture, Form, and Environment

Ethics and Urban Design: Culture, Form, and Environment

Author(s): Gideon S. Golany

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Hardcover: 272 pages

ISBN: 0471122742

ISBN-13: 978-0471122746

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Ethics and Urban Design: Culture, Form, and Environment

“The city,” according to urban design scholar Gideon Golany, is “the largest and most complicated project ever produced by humankind.” In Ethics and Urban Design, he challenges design professionals to reexamine their basic assumptions about the urban environment and offers design strategies based on enduring human values.

In search of answers to the paradoxical problems of the modern city, Golany takes the reader through the sweep of human settlements from the dawn of civilization to the present. His authoritative examination of the genesis of the city is illuminated by instructive examples of early urban centers. Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, the Egyptian cities of the Nile, and the capital cities of ancient China–all are examined in the light of what made them work as major centers of human activity.

What Golany finds in the success stories of the past are cohesive sociocultural values that shaped the design of homes, neighborhoods, and cities. These ethical values helped to maintain an equilibrium within the society that permeated its natural, social, and human-made environments. In the present era, conversely, he finds a major disconnection between human values and the ethics of technology, which has resulted in confusion, imbalance, and dehumanization.

To help designers gain a perspective on possible solutions, Golany explains leading comprehensive design strategies, including the valley theory, the urban border zone concept, and the regional concept of Patrick Geddes. In the case study of contemporary Holland, he details what a small, densely populated country has been able to achieve through design planning rooted in environmental ethics.

“Future Frontiers for Urban Design,” the culminating section of this groundbreaking book, opens with Golany’s vision of the future city. He examines the issues of thermal performance and climate as they relate to urban design and offers the concept of “geospace”–the earth-enveloped habitat. Buttressing his presentation with detailed information on the mechanics of geospace, Golany describes case studies of the successful use of earth-enveloped habitats in China and Tunisia. He makes a powerful argument for the geospace city as a renewal of ancient traditions that can restore the vital equilibrium between nature and human settlements that we seem to have lost.

Ethics and Urban Design is a distinguished scholar’s analysis and prescription for the city; it offers an abundance of stimulating ideas for the architects, designers, and planners who have assumed responsibility for its future.

Ethics & Urban Design draws on historical examples and contemporary case studies from around the world to illustrate urban design strategies that can help restore equilibrium to the natural, social, and built environments of the city. In this stimulating book, urban design scholar Gideon Golany offers architects, designers, and planners both an in-depth analysis of the fundamental issues of urban design and practical options for the design of the future city.
* Examines the genesis and development of the city from the earliest presettlements to the rise of urban society
* Presents urban design strategies based on historical examples of early urban centers, including Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, Egypt, and China
* Offers case studies of environmental success stories from Europe, Asia, and Africa
* Details geospace design options–the use of underground space for diversified land use, housing, and transportation
* Fully illustrated, with over 80 photographs, drawings, and diagrams

From the Publisher

Features historical examples and contemporary case studies from around the world to illustrate an approach to urban design that balances the requirements of both cultural and natural environments. Addresses such issues as housing, transportation, urban ecology, public space and geospace design options. Contains a wealth of line drawings and photographs of Golany’s design concepts.

Design with Nature

Design with NatureAuthor(s): Ian L. McHarg

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Paperback: 208 pages

ISBN: 047111460X

ISBN-13: 978-0471114604

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Publication date: February 1995

Synopsis: The first book to describe an ecologically sound approach to the planning and design of communities, Design with Nature has done much over the past 25 years to shape public environmental policy. This paperback edition makes this classic accessible to a wider audience than ever before. Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 color photos and line drawings.

From Library Journal

LJ’s reviewer boldly contended that this “may well be one of the most important books of the century.” Blending philosophy and science, McHarg shows how humans can copy nature’s examples to design and build better structures. This 25th anniversary edition includes a new introduction and epilog. This remains “a pleasure to read” (LJ 10/1/69).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description

“In presenting us with a vision of organic exuberance and human delight, which ecology and ecological design promise to open up for us, McHarg revives the hope for a better world.” –Lewis Mumford”. . . important to America and all the rest of the world in our struggle to design rational, wholesome, and productive landscapes.” –Laurie Olin, Hanna Olin, Ltd.

“This century’s most influential landscape architecture book.” –Landscape Architecture

“. . . an enduring contribution to the technical literature of landscape planning and to that unfortunately small collection of writings which speak with emotional eloquence of the importance of ecological principles in regional planning.” –Landscape and Urban Planning

In the twenty-five years since it first took the academic world by storm, Design With Nature has done much to redefine the fields of landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and ecological design. It has also left a permanent mark on the ongoing discussion of mankind’s place in nature and nature’s place in mankind within the physical sciences and humanities. Described by one enthusiastic reviewer as a “user’s manual for our world,” Design With Nature offers a practical blueprint for a new, healthier relationship between the built environment and nature. In so doing, it provides nothing less than the scientific, technical, and philosophical foundations for a mature civilization that will, as Lewis Mumford ecstatically put it in his Introduction to the 1969 edition, “replace the polluted, bulldozed, machine-dominated, dehumanized, explosion-threatened world that is even now disintegrating and disappearing before our eyes.”

A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6)

A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6)

Author(s): Christopher Alexander (Contributor), Hajo Neis, Artemis Anninou, ingr King

Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr (Trade)

ISBN: 0195037537

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A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6)

Hardcover, 251 pages
Publication date: November 1987

The venerable cities of the past, such as Venice or Amsterdam, convey a feeling of wholeness, an organic unity that surfaces in every detail, large and small, in restaurants, shops, public gardens, even in balconies and ornaments. But this sense of wholeness is lacking in modern urban design, with architects absorbed in problems of individual structures, and city planners preoccupied with local ordinances, it is almost impossible to achieve.

In this groundbreaking volume, the newest in a highly-acclaimed series by the Center for Environmental Structure, architect and planner Christopher Alexander presents a new theory of urban design which attempts to recapture the process by which cities develop organically. To discover the kinds of laws needed to create a growing whole in a city, Alexander proposes here a preliminary set of seven rules which embody the process at a practical level and which are consistent with the day-to-day demands of urban development.

He then puts these rules to the test, setting out with a number of his graduate students to simulate the urban redesign of a high-density part of San Francisco, initiating a project that encompassed some ninety different design problems, including warehouses, hotels, fishing piers, a music hall, and a public square. This extensive experiment is documented project by project, with detailed discussion of how each project satisfied the seven rules, accompanied by floorplans, elevations, street grids, axonometric diagrams and photographs of the scaled-down model which clearly illustrate the discussion.

A New Theory of Urban Design provides an entirely new theoretical framework for the discussion of urban problems, one that goes far to remedy the defects which cities have today.

About the Author:

Christopher Alexander, winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, is a practicing architect and contractor, Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Environmental Structure.

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Author(s): Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein

Publisher: Oxford Univ Press

ISBN: 0195019199

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Hardcover, 1171 pages

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The second of three books published by the Center for Environmental Structure to provide a “working alternative to our present ideas about architecture, building, and planning,” A Pattern Language offers a practical language for building and planning based on natural considerations. The reader is given an overview of some 250 patterns that are the units of this language, each consisting of a design problem, discussion, illustration, and solution. By understanding recurrent design problems in our environment, readers can identify extant patterns in their own design projects and use these patterns to create a language of their own. Extraordinarily thorough, coherent, and accessible, this book has become a bible for homebuilders, contractors, and developers who care about creating healthy, high-level design.

Customer Comments 11/07/97, rating=9:
A Pattern Language presents a compelling case for the influence of space, buildings, and landscape on human endeavors. We often overlook this force, accustomed as we are to accommodating spatial limitations and design flaws. But try entering any room and ignoring the cues of memory and social constraints – you will doubtless be drawn to the window in the room.

Alexander and his contributing editors present a series of patterns that operate universally on the mood and activities of people using spaces. “Light on Two Sides,” for example, is a pattern describing the impact of light entering a room from two directions. Functionally, this arrangement softens light by cancelling the harsh shadows that arise from a single light direction. Emotionally, this makes a room more pleasant to live and work in, and may of its own accord encourage certain activities.

Alexander’s huge study of over 200 patterns is at once modest and sweeping. He details patterns with care, and offers sketches and photographs to illustrate them, along with an unassuming voice. Above all, he demystifies architecture itself, calling upon any reader to assume a role in the design process. Despite this humility, the significance of Alexander’s vision is always present. In the end, he is constructing a formula for social utopiaÐan architectural prescription for living well and wisely. From integrating children and senior citizens into the daily life of a community to revealing the advantages of mixed use commercial and residential zoning, Alexander proposes ideas that can successfully animate any town’s master planning efforts.

Read this book if you’re designing house, working with an architect, looking for a new house, or contributing to your city’s planning commission. You will doubtless come away with a heightened appreciation for the influence of space on your choices and activities.

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming

Author: Masanobu Fukuoka

Paperback: 200 pages

Publisher: NYRB Classics (June 2, 2009)

ISBN-10: 1590173139

ISBN-13: 978-1590173138

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The One-Straw Revolution is one of the founding documents of the alternative food movement, and indispensable to anyone hoping to understand the future of food and agriculture.”—Michael Pollan
“Only the ignorant could write off Fukuoka, who died two years ago at the age of 95, as a deluded or nostalgic dreamer…Fukuoka developed ideas that went against the conventional grain….Long before the American Michael Pollan, he was making the connections between intensive agriculture, unhealthy eating habits and a whole destructive economy based on oil.” –Harry Eyres, The Financial Times

“Fukuoka’s do-nothing approach to farming is not only revolutionary in terms of growing food, but it is also applicable to other aspects of living, (creativity, child-rearing, activism, career, etc.) His holistic message is needed now more than ever as we search for new ways of approaching the environment, our community and life. It is time for us all to join his ‘non-movement.'”—Keri Smith author of How to be an Explorer of the World

 

“Japan’s most celebrated alternative farmer…Fukuoka’s vision offers a beacon, a goal, an ideal to strive for.” —Tom Philpott, Grist

 

The One-Straw Revolution shows the critical role of locally based agroecological knowledge in developing sustainable farming systems.” —Sustainable Architecture

 

“With no ploughing, weeding, fertilizers, external compost, pruning or chemicals, his minimalist approach reduces labour time to a fifth of more conventional practices. Yet his success in yields is comparable to more resource-intensive methods…The method is now being widely adopted to vegetate arid areas. His books, such as The One-Straw Revolution, have been inspirational to cultivators the world over.” —New Internationalist

Product Description

Call it “Zen and the Art of Farming” or a “Little Green Book,” Masanobu Fukuoka’s manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge presents a radical challenge to the global systems we rely on for our food. At the same time, it is a spiritual memoir of a man whose innovative system of cultivating the earth reflects a deep faith in the wholeness and balance of the natural world. As Wendell Berry writes in his preface, the book “is valuable to us because it is at once practical and philosophical. It is an inspiring, necessary book about agriculture because it is not just about agriculture.”

Trained as a scientist, Fukuoka rejected both modern agribusiness and centuries of agricultural practice, deciding instead that the best forms of cultivation mirror nature’s own laws. Over the next three decades he perfected his so-called “do-nothing” technique: commonsense, sustainable practices that all but eliminate the use of pesticides, fertilizer, tillage, and perhaps most significantly, wasteful effort.

Whether you’re a guerrilla gardener or a kitchen gardener, dedicated to slow food or simply looking to live a healthier life, you will find something here—you may even be moved to start a revolution of your own.

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual

Permaculture: A Designers' Manual

Author(s): Bill Mollison

Publisher: Ten Speed

ISBN: 0908228015

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For those of us searching for an ecologically responsible lifestyle amid urban and suburban insanity, Bill Mollison has a real and exciting answer. This book is full of helpful advice presented in a very readable way. (The only problem might be getting stuck in the chapters on climates that don’t concern you; just skip them until later!) The groundwork philosophy of permaculture is laid first, and the book moves from there to the practical business of actually designing one. The emphasis is on letting various plant and animal species work together as much as possible, to form a basically self-sustaining system from which people can reap a continual harvest, not only of food, but of interest and self-respect. What a prospect! It is certainly a very different one from what we young people have been taught to expect from life! This volume is much more complete in both the philosophy and the practice than were the original “Permaculture One” and “Permaculture Two.” It is also much less focused on the Southern Hemisphere, which is helpful for North Americans trying to visualize their own permaculture. I can only hope that more people happen upon this book as I did and are themselves inspired to create a fulfilling life for themselves and their children.

— Wendell Berry

This is the permaculture bible, written by the great guru of permaculture. Site design issues are interwoven throughout the text.

 

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