Give me an idea and win a green cellphone!


Recently, I wrote about how the green wave has started to wash over cellphone companies (you can read the article here). One of the phones I focused on was the Motorola Renew, pictured above, which is “carbon-neutral” (I put that term in scare-quotes because really it’s just been offset for a couple years at, has a body made from recycled water bottles, a prepaid envelope to ship the phone back to Motorola for proper recycling, less charging time required, minimal packaging made from recycled cardboard and no PVC, lead, exposed nickel or other hazardous materials.

As Bill Olson, the Motorola rep I spoke with, said: “If you take a marginal product and stick a green label on it, it’s not going to fool anyone. If, however, you have a really great product and it happens to be green, that sells. The key is to offer people something thoughtful and well-executed.”

I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not the Renew deserves praise or criticism; in the mean time, if you’re an environmentalist in need of a cellphone but feeling the credit crunch in a major way, fret not! You can win a Motorola Renew — right here, right now. How can you win it?

Simple: Although my awesome-and-so-worth-paying-$13.83CAD-for book is coming out in the very near future (next week in Canada; mid-June in the U.S. but you can totally pre-order), I’m already thinking about my next project. The problem is, there are so many green books flooding the market right now, and the last thing people need is yet another book full of tips. So my question to you sage readers is: What do you want to read about? What kind of green book would you buy? Do you want personal, chicken-soup-for-the-hippie-soul kind of stories or hard, apocalyptic facts? Do you like straight-up non-fiction or juicy memoirs? Broad, multifaceted topics like global warming or an in-depth look at one subject, like bees? Maybe you’d like a whole cookbook/guide for fridgeless living, or maybe a coffee table book on guerilla gardening?

Whoever offers the best idea for a new green book (I’ll consult with my publishers to see what they think… and yes, this is unfortunately a very subjective contest) wins the phone!

Ready, set, brainstorm!

43 Responses to Give me an idea and win a green cellphone!

  1. Next week? NEXT WEEK!!!! I had no idea it was so soon. You are such a journalist with all your humbleness around this unbelievable accomplishment!

    Book ideas… book ideas….
    -Green conversions… The first year living with a man slowly converting to greendom
    – Green washing… (uh see above post)
    – Kids save the planet… get kids to write essays on how they might better the environment and you could write commentaries on their solutions- which would likely be better than anything the big people come up with
    – The adventure of turning your urban back yard into your dinner (that would be about gardening)
    – The trials and tribulations about hosting your best friend Meghan’s hens in your back yard until she gets her own.
    – Chlorohyll… It’s green. Look… I wrote you an intro:

  2. Marianne in Whitehorse says:

    I would love to see how people are having FUN doing things that are green and unusual…it could be a cool coffee table book with beautiful pictures, fun ideas and featuring people who are doing what they are doing becuase it’s super fun, not a grim responsibility. I’m an enviro professional (by title, anyways) and I can’t bring myself to read too much “should-read” enviro news because there’s only so many times you can read about problems before you want to see some solutions and people being happy. Bonus points for including resources to learn more and get into it ourselves.

    So, like a “20 places to go before you die”, except enviro activist/pacifist. I’m thinking about 10-15 things like guerilla gardening, the knitting taggers (look them up if you don’t know, WAY cool), hyper milers, treehouse builders, etc. There HAS to be a few people on Etsy worth featuring for their unusual yet enviro creations and so-on. Especially cool to include things that may appeal to non-environmentalists (or yet to be enviros!).

    Phew! Good luck 🙂

  3. Amy says:

    I would like to read a “green” book about everyday living for the average person. From grocery shopping and cooking, to gardening, homekeeping, recycled crafting, recycling in the home, organizations that can help us live a greener life, product guides, holiday gifts. I guess what I’m looking for is a sort of “Green” Encyclopedia of sorts, but more interesting to read than just a bunch of lists. I hope this helps you.

  4. Kelsie says:

    I’ve had a phrase stuck in my head for a long time–“The Green Old-Fashioned Way” as I keep thinking of the stories my great grandmothers told me about how they “made-do” during the Depression. That got me to thinking, of course, about how most things people did “back in the day” could be considered “green.” I’m sure there were exceptions (like the common practice of having a trash dump on one’s property), but most things that we consider trash now were reused until they couldn’t be reused anymore. And most food was grown close to come (or at home). Most clothes were made either by oneself or by a friend/neighbor/relative/someone in town. People bought one pair of shoes and wore it until it could no longer be repaired. Then, they bought a new one. Children made their own toys out of sticks, rocks, and corncobs–and they were happy! What we call “green” or “frugal” now was a way of life for most up until fairly recently (in the grand scheme of things). It’d be pretty cool (and timely! and inspiring! and tip-ful!) to interview some Depression survivors and ask them what they thing of the “green” movement. 🙂 Make of that what you will.

  5. Alison says:

    I agree with Kelsie and I think others do to — I’ve come across many “modern day homesteaders” that really try to do it like grandma and grandpa did with a modern twist.

    However what causes my noggin to get frustrated is figuring out how to not let go of technology and other modern advances that make life easier, in addition to encouraging city living (apartment living). Out west and up north there is lots of space for folks to sprawl and have big yards and gardens, but in reality, I think it would be much better for us to have higher densities in cities and smaller personal footprints, no more suburbia and so on.

    At the same time, living in a city makes city dwellers dependent on piped in water, electricity, food grown elsewhere, and so what I would like to see is something that brings the farm and the solar oven and the fresh water to the high rise. Something somewhat akin to No Impact Man experiment, but not quite so cerebral and life changing? How can we live in a city without creating waste and without huge dependence on fossil fuels for energy and transportation?

  6. Kari says:

    I’m a fan of memoir. Eight out of every ten books I read are memoir. Books that are thick with facts put me to sleep unfortunately, but when spread out nicely don’t bother me. Maybe you could tell me how to grow vegetables inside my apartment with no balcony or aerogarden? LOL!

    While there are actually a lot of books about pioneering it so to say(like The Encyclopedia of Country Living), I’d like to see an up-to-date book of how to live sustainably utilizing skills that were second nature to our grandparents yet apply to this day and age as well.

  7. Jenifer says:

    I want to read a book that tells me how things used to be done before the advent of the things that are now hurting us/our environment. Then, I want to know the smart, eco-friendly and sustainable way to do it today. It occurs to me that I never learned how to make things from scratch, but of course that is how it was done when my grandmother was young. However, even she now uses canned and prepackaged goods, swills water from a plastic bottle and does it the convenient way. I guess I need to be taught how to do things that skipped my generation due to the advent of these so-called enhancements to our lives. But, I also enjoy and want to know how things were before, why they changed and when, and how to get back to basics today but using the resources we have now that are renewable and safe! (I know not everything was wonderful in the good ol’ days…)

    This is something I’m looking for right now! Hurry up and write it! =D

  8. gettinggreen says:

    Hmm… this is really interesting! Three of you have now mentioned that you want something that’s almost like a sage grandmother full of wisdom — in book form. And I do think that’s a great idea. There are some books out there already about how to homestead, which tell you how to knit, how to bake bread, how to make honey and sew clothes and whatever, but maybe I should just go out and interview a couple dozen grandmas 🙂

  9. onegreenmomma says:

    Fab phone. Congrats on the book release next week.

    While the blogging sphere is flooded with green goodness, I have yet to see anything on living fridgeless. Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, bu you may have something with that idea.

    Since you travel, why not explore a book about eco-travel. You could focus on N. America (well, Canada of course) and look at ways on seeing this part of the world flight free. Throw in eco-tastic transportation, some footprint free (or light) accomodation, yummy food and bevvies and you’ve got yourself a best seller!

    Happy writing.

  10. KLund says:

    I like reading personal stories about what people have done or accomplished to reduce their impact on the earth and how they have simplified their own lives. I would love to read a book that maybe has a chapter devoted to different families-how they have greened their lives, reduced consumption of resources, alternative housing, getting rid of “stuff”, etc.

  11. Billie says:

    How about a book on going local?

    How do you go about finding that Farmer’s Market, happy beef farm and CSA. What about harder things like flour? What about other things that people might not think about like buying a 1/4 cow or doing a pre-order for when a local farmer does slaughter a cow. If I just knew some of the things you could even look into… I might actually look into them.

    Put in some facts on the advantages of going local that benefit the earth.

    Put in recipes that would let you make things rather than buy them. For example, you can find local milk? Make yogurt and simple cheeses.

    There is my brainstorm.

  12. Doug Appeldoorn says:

    I too would like to see a book that looks at the way we did things before the advent of Walmart and Globalization, but recognizes the challenges we face today. My parents and grandparents lived a sustainable life out of necessity and also because they were cheap. I think we can learn from looking back as long as we apply it to the realities of 21st century living. Sadly there is reason people consume the way they do today, it’s cheap and easy. Many people shop at Walmart and buy throw-away items now for the same reasons our parents and grandparents did in their day – out of necessity. Considering the recessionary times we now find ourselves in I think an interesting take would be to find a way to go green and actually save money in the process. Reducing and reusing are far easier to sell when there is a financial gain. I think the sustainability movement will go much further if it can appeal to a broader base of people who can’t necessarily afford a Prius or the latest eco product available. Looking back may give us the answers we need as long as we can apply them to today’s challenges moving forward. Technological advances will make sustainability cheaper and easier. Seeking out those advances and making people aware they exist may make sustainability a reality for many.

  13. Denise says:

    how about a children’s book?
    maybe one that teaches the basics of being friendly to the environment, or one that has a character that learns a lesson about being green.

    I’ll try to come up with some more ideas, my phone broke down this week, and I’m a poor student… so great timing 😛

  14. Alison says:

    Just re-read my comment and it is as clear as mud. Let me see if I can get this across better, but might be difficult as this is more of a gut feeling than a concrete thought!

    Having spent the last two years trying out the urban homesteading model (learning how to can, baking my own bread, gardening, buying from a CSA) etc., I think these are all great skills. And yet, on the population scale that we have, urban homesteading may feel good, but it is really not practical for every member of the planet or even for the entire population of North America.

    It is not practical nor sustainable for every household to have their own canning supplies and grow all their own food and their are not enough local farms to support our communities (were everyone to REALLY buy local). These are all good exercises, but I personally, don’t think they are the answer to sustainability.

    I think we need a paradigm shift of sorts, to learn from the frugality necessitated by the past (the meaning of growing food for necessity vs. buying a new car because you “need” it). Living the past won’t work. The months that I canned or even watered my garden (in our high altitude desert climate) my electric and water bills spiked. My water is piped in from the other side of the continental divide, tomatoes don’t naturally grow in Colorado…so, why should I try?

    So the question that needs answered — is how do we take your year long experiment, as a city dweller and expand upon that re-inventing past homesteading so that it can happen at an urban level. Maybe this means more community gardens and community canning parties (shared or rental ownership of goods that we don’t really need to own individually), eating more plant matter, fewer animal products, farmers living closer to nature, but maybe growing more (like Organic Valley Co-op Farms). Maybe it means re-thinking water rights and the meaning of local without tossing out the color brought to life by globalization.

    To do any of this, I think we need to break through the shell of consumer marketing and the myth that we all need new things, that we all need our own individual copy of things, whether it be a car, a lawn mower, a canner or a book. You’ve sort of already started this with your pantry to the bathroom idea. We think we need all these specialized goods, but in reality, most specialized goods are just a marketing trick to make money and the cost of those goods is not reflected in the cash price paid by the consumer.

    I think that many of the simple pleasures, such as sharing a glass of wine with friends or taking a walk with your kids or even technology like Facebook are things worth keeping. What we really need to breakthrough and “save the planet” is to change our habits as a consumer. It doesn’t make sense for you to write a book on homesteading, because you are not a homesteader, but you are someone who experiments with perceptions, beliefs, habits, culture, etc., so you might be an ideal candidate to try to breakthrough the myth of consumer culture…

  15. Kelly says:

    Congrats again on the book deal darling! Can’t wait to get my hands on an autographed copy! (You can make mine out to ‘My dearest Poopy’…)

    And already on to the next project, you go-getter you!

    Being a teacher, I think it would be interesting to take on a project that involves the input of kids. You said it yourself at one of our brunch dates – 12 year olds are just so funny! All of the schools in my board are being encouraged to go green, and the kids are surprisingly excited and informed.

    I would also love love love to see you write a book about being an informed and responsible meat-eater. While this isn’t exactly a ‘green’ idea, it does tie in with being kinder to the earth and its creatures. I can see you writing something as funny and as informative as Skinny Bitch…only more realistic. I think those authors endeavoured to make everyone a vegan. You already have some great fodder for this topic (the butcher class you took…). I know that some people will always eat meat, but maybe some smart writing could encourage them to search out meat that was handled properly in life and at death.

    See you soon at your par-tay! xo

  16. Maggie says:

    I would love to see a book about transitioning to a green lifestyle. Something that starts out with the very basic, easy changes, and then progressing chapter by chapter to slowly integrate more and more eco-friendly lifestyle habits.

    There are so many books, websites, etc. on “green” topics, and sometimes all the info can be so overwhelming. To have it sorted out from easy, inexpensive changes to more committed, larger projects, would be a great way to appeal to a variety of people and really make a difference on all levels.

  17. kate says:

    Great site! I’m just getting into finding blogs written by people concerned about their footprint and how to live “green” in a real way.

    I did a lot of research on combining the old with the new long before many people were really interested in it. I’ve had to live on very little most of adult life, so I’ve incorporated many of the older ways into my life just simply because I’ve had to and I’ve been darn glad I was so curious about it when the kids were little.

    My biggest frustration has always been how to live green on a very limited budget (yes, even when having to live on foodstamps for a time) and also living urban, since I’ve never had the money for that 10 acre plot I dreamed of so long ago.

    So I think a good book would find a way to incorporate the old ways, along with some old wisdom on life as well while living in an urban world. So many books just assume one has the money to shop at Whole Foods or order something online, but what about growing your food in a small space? What about really making a low footprint lifestyle a reality and being frank about the sacrifice that it takes and the rewards that come from such.

    Maybe there are books out there on this topic, but I haven’t seen them yet. Buying well made, non-toxic, all cotton or whatever is great, but when you live on a Dollar Store budget, what gives?

    Our culture is so class driven and the identifiers are always couched in conspicuous consumption, even among the “green” people. Can’t we get away from that?

    I guess such a book would also have some advice about community action as well — getting your town or locality to adopt eco-friendly habits, such as recycling, improved public transit, community gardening.

    Just some thoughts. I really don’t need the cellphone as I’m not sure I’d qualify for T-Mobile’s service anyway.

  18. Just Ducky says:

    I gotta tell you…I want to read about “extreme green/homestead city living”. I’m talking about living in the city but having a couple of chickens, container gardening, canning food, sewing clothes/drapes/napkins, knitting socks/scarves…like an urban pioneer scenario. We can’t all just pick up and move to the country to live “off the grid”. My job/family make it so that realistically I need to stay in the city, but with peak oil and with global warming, etc…I keep thinking we might find ourselves back in a situation where we need to (or it might be in our best interest to) live a more pioneer/homemade kind of life.

  19. Chichimama says:

    I think some sort of a book of short essays/interviews. People seem to be into getting/reading non-fiction books that have natural breakpoints, making it easy to read them on the subway/bus/in a waiting room/before bed. I like the interviews of Depression Era folks, but think if you mixed it up a bit, some depression era folks, some young folks, some families, you would get a better picture of how different people view the green movement, how they interpret “going green” and what things are harder/easier to do at different stages in ones life and in history.

  20. kimlitchford says:

    I think Fridgeless living/cooking would be a great book to have especially in our economic climate. Times are tough for many people and learning how to live without a fridge would help people cut their electric bills and teach a skill that would help in times of crisis.

  21. Rachel says:

    The most motivating thing for me, that I don’t hear or read much about, is the idea of living in a way that all or most of the people in the world could live too. The world’s resources are so unfairly distributed. Take the politics out of it, and try to imagine how we would live so that the earth could support everyone. How much food, electricity, etc would we have? How can we optimize and take care those resources? I’d love to read about some statitics (etc. how many people, how much grain, how that divides out ) I also enjoy reading about people’s experiences. SOmeone who tried for a month, 6 months, a year to try to live that way. An earth friendly and humanity friendly way

  22. gettinggreen says:

    Omg, you’re all making it SO hard to decide on a winner!! These are all amazing book ideas.. I wish I could write about every single one. Let me chit-chat with my editors and see what they think; then I’ll get back to everyone with a winner 🙂

  23. Jodi says:

    So many posts I didn’t get a chance to read them all so sorry if I’ve recycled someone’s idea.

    Being a mom I’d like a week by week how to book on simple changes I could make for my family to become more green. This book should incorporate simple ideas that kids can help with so they feel they are taking part in the change and understand why. We are sometime so busy in everyday life that we need a simple how to manual so we don’t have to be surfing the web sorting through all the different idea’s to know which one’s actually make an impact. I’ve suggested weekly as daily is just not going to happen for a busy family with kids. Good luck on your new book!

  24. onegreenmomma says:

    Jodi, there are some great online family resources for going green. One family oriented site that has a monthly green column geared towards family greening is The column is called Green-e-olgy and is written by a mama. The site is powered by a wife and husband team and all columns are written by parents. You may find it interesting.

  25. Josh Cobden says:

    I would love to see a book about how small/midsized businesses can green their operation. Large corporations often have control over their own facilities and a lot of influence over their supply chain, but small/mid-sized businesses often do not. We are mid-sized PR firm that made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality, and we wanted to get most of the way there by reducing waste vs. offsets. However, as a tenant in a large building, our landlord was not exactly cooperative in helping us get there. We have lobbied hard for green bins, bike cages, control of our lighting and heating etc. But it was a challenge. We have also switched to (more expensive) 100% recycled paper and “offset” these costs by two-sided printing and narrower margins etc. We’ve learned a lot, but I’m sure there’s more we could do, and I’m sure there are plenty of other businesses out there that would make positive changes if someone told them how.

  26. reuel says:

    A book on how the developing world is beginning to use renewable sources of energy and going green would be interesting. I am a devolopment worker and there are tons of great ideas out there some being implemented some still on the shelf, but the third world is making significant steps.

  27. Hellcat13 says:

    I am ridiculously excited for your book…I had it on my list online, then realized I really want to walk into a bookstore and grab it off a shelf, so I will be taking that route instead. Can’t wait.

    I haven’t read the other comments yet, so apologies if this response has been used…

    I think I’d love something with you in it. What attracted me to the website and your writing was your personality, which really came through. So definitely memoir-type stuff or something where you’re part of the story. I’d like something along the lines of a three- or four-section book where you do in-depth interviews and life-stories of various people on the environmental spectrum (but in novel format). Like, one section on people who live entirely off the grid (my sister-in-law and her husband, if you need a case study!). Then regular joes like us who do lots, but can’t fully commit. Then the complete opposite end of the off-the-grid people – those who unapologetically don’t recycle, leave all their lights on, crank the AC, etc. What makes people tick? Then you could wrap up with a sequel to your first book – where you fall, progress you’ve made, things that have lapsed, etc.

  28. Jodi says:

    Thanks onegreenmamma – I’ll definatley check out the site!

  29. Mél says:

    Oh ! This is fun. Trying to find which book I would want to see written…

    I totally agree whit the previous posts about the grandma-wisdom and the “how did this al go before …”, but, as a student, I would like to see the way to go green on small budget. PLus, in these “times of crisis” might sell well: “how to save money while saving the planet”. And … living in a hot (Guatemala) climate without fridge, this topic would have to be part of it.

  30. Seabrooke says:

    My dilemma as a struggling freelancer trying not to go further into debt than necessary is how to go green without changing my spending habits or having to give up my chosen lifestyle (I’m a country-dweller; I am not, have never been, and don’t think I ever could be happy in urban settings).

    One of the things I really, really want is a green car. I live out in the country, which necessitates a car for running errands like getting groceries, but the only car I can even remotely afford, of course, is gas-powered. Chevy has a commercial asking, “How do you get more people to drive a hybrid?” with the reasonable answer, “You make it more affordable.” And then they go on to say their new Chevy Malibu hybrid is $28,000! My budget is, like, $10,000. If I stretch.

    Similarly, for me to buy all organic at the grocery store adds about a third to my grocery bill. I’ve looked into CSA arrangements, but admit the $800 up-front cost is a little intimidating for someone who doesn’t have a regular income (although some do take post-dated cheques). I know bushels of people who would like to switch to solar power (myself included), but who can’t afford the $50,000 investment to get a system that would power their house.

    I kind of feel like all those little things like switching to CFLs won’t make much of a difference if I’m still driving my gasoline-powered car and pulling energy off the public grid, heating the house with heating oil, etc, etc.

    How do we make green more affordable? What will it take to get these green innovations within the reach of the average consumer? Government subsidies to the public? Or subsidies to the manufacturers/retailers to allow them to lower prices? Mass government buy-ins on the technology itself (eg solar panels on government buildings)? Is there anything that can be done on that front that *doesn’t* require the government’s help?

    It’s like the logical follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth. We’ve established that climate change is happening, and we know the theoretical things we need to do to stop it…. but *how* do we accomplish those things, affordably, within the means of every citizen, the way computers, once only for the wealthy, can now be found in nearly every home? You’re not going to be able to convince the entire American public to suddenly adopt a Mennonite lifestyle, so part 2 of the question is, how to do it in a way that will minimize necessary changes in living habits? Instead of preaching to the choir, how do you get the congregation to buy into these changes, and make them seamless and affordable enough, that they actually go out and change when the sermon’s done?

  31. erikka says:

    #1. pick a way of living/philosophy that is very simplified (amish, shaker, quaker) and live it for x time and then take what you learn and see what translates into modern day living. combining everyone’s idea on “old time simple” with memoir qualities, but also learning how old timers did NOT eschew technology, they just chose very intentionally what to use and how to apply it to their lives.

    Jodi and all others who said they want a step by step book on how to go green and save money – these books are OUT THERE! Green Chic, Simply Green are just a few titles. Do a quick google search and you’ll find out there’s resources waiting for you out there already.

    Good luck greenasathistle.

  32. Debbie says:

    What I could use is a source on how to go green ‘smartly’! I try something only to find out the substitute is nearly as harmful. I have found some info on the web but not nearly enough. I try organic cotton. Then someone points out how much water it takes to grow. Are we back to polyester, something else?


  33. erikka says:

    one more idea –

    a book on breaking the myths and stereotypes of going green practices. pointing out ones that work, cost efficient ones, vs ones that are NOT green and NOT cost efficient. from you PERSONALLY trying them out or having different people pick different ones that you then compile. and you could specify the myths or factors of how to rate each practice.

  34. Jodi says:

    Thanks Erikka! I’m checking them out now.

  35. Victoria says:

    I think at this point in time we all have read, use cloth shopping bags, switch to cfl bulbs etc. I think a homey, Grandma wisdoms as applied to today’s lifestyle would be very appealing. With the state of the economy more and more people are looking to be more mindful, more frugal as well as greener.

  36. JulieG says:

    I’d love to read your book, but live in Australia. Any chance of a digital version for sale later on, outside of the US and Canada? Partly for eco reasons (less paper, less shipping) and partly because it might be cheaper for your publisher. Just a thought 🙂

  37. Pecos Blue says:

    Pressure Cooker cook book but on how to make asian dishes in your pressure cooker not the old tried and true.

    That is my million dollar idea. THe pressure cooker is a very environmentally friendly way to cook but so many of the recipes are boring! I know they are used a lot in Asia so combine them together (I looked and could not find one) and voila!

  38. Pecos Blue says:

    Also doe the phone have a low SAR value?

  39. Amy says:

    A book on recycling. What is recyclable, i.e. I heard water bottles are but the hard plastic caps and ring are not. Where does the granola bar wrapper go – the plastic or the paper or the non recyclable bin. Focus on around the world a little too because we are currently in Europe but are from the US.

  40. Martin says:

    The greenest mobile phone is the one you already have. People are upgrading far too often.

  41. I was researching small solar panel info and found this post. I found similar sites, like that help you install your own solar panels but I need to find out where to get the photovoltaic panels.

  42. This idea works by the water in the drains powering fans to create electricity for houses so we don’t have to use power plants.
    So what happens is that the water pushing the fans sends the power to a generator. Then the generator will send the electricity to your home. There is an electric cable going to your home to send the power. Can send you a picture of the idea.
    Thank you Clare Mcvety

  43. A fan is situated under the bonnet of the car which generates power. This is then stored in a battery.

    The car has to be moving to work. So what will happen if the car runs out of power? The wind will go through the grill and then start the fan which creates power that will be stored in the battery for later use
    Also the power, that the brakes create when used, will power to the battery.
    The car has dynamos in the wheels to work the lights like the old bicycles used to have.I can give you a picture of the idea if you want.

    Thank you
    Clare Mcvety

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