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1 August 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Terra Infirma!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!So, it is 11 years to the day that I jumped off the cruise ship of salaried employment and onto the windsurfing board of solo consultancy – just before the tsunami of the 2007/08 financial crisis gave me a rather brutal lesson in business survival. Looking back over the last year, as I always do on this date, the uncertainty created by Brexit has certainly caused similar choppy waters as many people who would like our help are either unable to invest, or afraid to.

This has led to a year of ups and downs. A good illustration is that, while our North of England-based Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group is going from strength to strength, hitting the maximum membership limit this year for the very first time, I was unable to get a critical mass together to launch a Southern chapter. Brexit was quoted by several otherwise very interested contacts as a reason they couldn't commit. The great irony of course is that during the financial crisis companies with a strong commitment to Sustainability weathered the storm better than those who didn't.

But that grumble aside, here are some more highlights of the last 12 months:

  • Continuing to work with our wonderful roster of existing clients including the BBC, NHS Blood & Transplant, Johnson Matthey, Newcastle NHS Hospitals Trust and Stanley Black & Decker;
  • Some great new clients including Durham University, Esh Construction, the Thirteen Group and Elopak;
  • The publication of our latest white paper Seven Steps to a Successful Sustainability Strategy;
  • Some fantastic questions for my regular Ask Gareth YouTube series (If you haven't subscribed to our YouTube channel, get over there straight away and do so);
  • Continuing success of our regular Green Academy training programme;
  • And, more recently, the launch of our new online training course: Green Jujitsu: Smart Employee Engagement for Sustainability.

And things are looking pretty good for the six months ahead with an strong focus on helping clients to implement their Sustainability Strategy. The good ship Terra Infirma sails on!

 

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6 January 2017

The Importance of Sustainability Conversations in 2017

Janus

Happy New(-ish) Year from Terra Infirma!

I write this from a ward of Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary after surgery on the little finger upon which I cleverly landed when out running/dancing-on-ice exactly a year ago. Not the most auspicious start to the year, but the enforced time out is giving me a chance to reflect on the last year or two and plan the year ahead.

One thing I have concluded is that our non-project delivery mechanisms often deliver much more value to our clients than the traditional consultancy project. A project is tightly defined and the client gets what they asked for. But in Sustainability it is often the stuff that people don't know that they don't know where major breakthroughs lie – those crucial issues take conversation to uncover, not phases and milestones and deliverables.

We have three main non-project delivery mechanisms (in increasing level of conversation richness):

But shameless plugs aside, with whom are you going to (or do you need to) have conversations about Sustainability in 2017? Is it everybody, or, more likely, key influencers? How will you start that conversation? What language will you use? What format will it take? And how will you work with the results?

And, as that last paragraph demonstrates, one of the best ways to kick off a conversation is with a question.

Here's to a successful and more sustainable 2017, full of rich conversation!

 

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29 December 2016

2016 at Terra Infirma Towers

If 2016 was a tumultuous one in world affairs – Brexit, Trump, Syria, all your childhood icons dying – it was a relatively calm one here at Terra Infirma Towers. It was a year of solid delivery rather than breakthrough and, possibly related, for me personally, spending a lot of time in physio to try (semi-successfully) to get the little finger I dislocated at the start of January working again. Many of my blog posts in 2016 were written in the coffee shop of the Royal Victoria Infirmary here in Newcastle (a client of ours, so I wrote it off as background research!).

From a work point of view, we delivered on several major projects started in 2015. Two of these, a research project on employee engagement for a major sustainability leader, and a sustainability strategy for NHSBT, will become publicly available next year. I intend to delve quite deeply into those for your benefit when they are launched as some of the content and lessons are really cool, if I may say so myself. A notable new client was Durham University, who we helped to embed sustainability into its mainstream engineering degree syllabus – a real passion of mine.

The Northern England Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group (CoSM) continued delivering top value for its members. What I really like is when I see conclusions from CoSM shaping the sustainability programmes of members in practice. The Group will motor on in 2017 and we're looking to put together a Southern branch.

I put a lot of work updating our Green Academy webinar programme this year and we had some  great new companies signing up. If you want to try it out for free, our 2017 taster session is on 18 January.

So that just leaves me to thank all our clients, partners, associates, friends and family for their support in 2016 – and looking forward to 2017 and whatever it may hold!

 

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22 December 2016

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

We're winding down now for Christmas as Terra Infirma Towers, so I'd just like to take a moment to thank all our clients, partners, friends and followers and wish you all a very Merry Christmas! The Flaming Lips song above is one of my very favourite Christmas songs and playing it triggers the seasonal cheer for me, and the lyrics hit the button even harder this year than normal.

Enjoy!

 

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1 August 2016

Happy 10th Birthday to Us!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!Drumroll! It is 10 years to the day since I set up Terra Infirma to bring sustainability to life.

Ten years.

A whole decade. ("I wouldn't go that far, Dave" as Trigger once (almost) told Rodney in Only Fools & Horses)

And what a decade. I started with a self-built website, self-designed/printed business cards and a dormant contract with Envirowise to do waste minimisation visits which I had transferred over from my previous job. My plan that summer was to build a dry-stone wall in my garden during August and get marketing in September with the hope of work in October. Three days of humping sandstone around later and the phone rang.

Next thing I knew I was in the shower, out, dried and into a suit – I'd landed my first new contract by mid-afternoon. The Envirowise work suddenly sprung into life a few weeks later, bringing in regular work. The dry-stone wall took another 18 months to finish.

And look where the company is now! A roster of great blue chip clients such as Johnson Matthey, BAE Systems, the BBC, News International, Viridor, East Coast Mainline. Stanley Black & Decker, the NHS and, most recently, Interface. Five books on Sustainability. Green Academy webinars. On-line training. The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group. The Low Carbon Agenda. Green Jujitsu. This blog. Modesty aside, I'm very proud of what's been achieved.

But we want to do more to help others embed Sustainability into everything they do. Looking ahead, I'm working on a second branch of the Mastermind Group (because it's the richest way to learn I've come across) and expanding our on-line training (as that's got global reach).

Lastly, I would like to extend a massive, warm thanks to everybody who has helped over the last ten years: clients, suppliers, associates, partners, friends and, not least, family. It wouldn't have happened without you.

Here's to the next ten years!

Cheers!

 

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4 January 2016

Looking forward to a (more) sustainable 2016!

sunrise

Well, I'm sitting here, steaming gently after my first exercise of 2016, and pondering the year ahead. 2015 was the best year in Terra Infirma's history, however you measure it, and it's going to be a real  challenge to raise the bar in 2016. I've got some very exciting plans in store, along with the results of some fab client projects, at least one of which will be publicly available.

If you want to join us to make the sustainable business revolution happen in 2016, we have a whole load of ways to accelerate progress in your organisation:

  1. First up, make sure you're subscribed to The Low Carbon Agenda (see right), our free monthly sustainability bulletin. We're going to hit edition 100 in a couple of months and I'll be putting together some really great stuff for then.
  2. Secondly, try out our Green Academy on-line training, for free, by signing up to 16 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2016 on 20 January. I guarantee you'll get more than a couple of inspirational ideas out of it to kick off your year.
  3. The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group hits its fourth birthday this year. It's my favourite thing that we do – a small group of sustainability leaders from some of the world's greatest organisations putting their heads together to learn from each other. One member who joined in 2015, Colin Thirlaway, Global Sustainability Lead for Black & Decker, described the group as 'invaluable' to his work. We have one seat free – contact me if you are interested!

Here's to a truly brilliant and sustainable 2016!

 

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18 December 2015

As we say goodbye to another year...

robin snow

It's time to dust off the old seasonal stock photo cliches (I'm sure I've seen that robin before...) as it's the last proper working day of 2015 here at Terra Infirma Towers. And what a year it's been!

We've been delighted to have been able to bring on board a global brand of the stature of Stanley Black & Decker, and being invited to work with a sustainability pioneer like Interface is a bit like being asked to play rhythm guitar in a Led Zeppelin reunion in my book. That's not to do down other great new clients such as Sage Group plc and Dover Corporation, both of whom joined us via Green Academy, or our ongoing work with NHSBT, NHS Newcastle, Johnson Matthey and Innovia Films. And I got to drive a Tesla!

By any stretch of the imagination, that's a great year, and in many ways I felt Terra Infirma was operating the way I've always wanted it to – helping great clients around the globe tackle the biggest challenge in the world armed with only a laptop in my home office.

Right, that's enough not-so-humble bragging. I'd like to you make a New Year's Resolution right now – join us on 20 January for our free webinar and get your 2016 off to a flying start:

16 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2016

Have a great Christmas and join us in the New Year!

All the very best,

Gareth

 

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12 August 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!While I've been away in the US of A, Terra Infirma celebrated its ninth Birthday. I often take the excuse at this time of year to indulge in a little navel gazing over the ups and downs of the last year and this time it is a pretty simple story.

2014 dismal.

2015 fantastic!

The end of last year was, from my perspective, dominated by the illness and death of my mother so it is no wonder business was slow. So let's draw a veil over that, and have a look at what has been going so right this year.

  • Green Academy has had something of a resurgence with mega-companies like Sage plc and Dover Corporation signing up for the whole year, and other big names such as Kohler and Royal Haskoning signing up for individual sessions.
  • The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group has gained brilliant new members including Newcastle NHS and Black & Decker.
  • We've taken on a major project with one of the superstars of sustainability, Interface, continued working with long term client NHSBT, and completed a project for Sunderland University.
  • As a result, already this year we have invoiced more than the whole of last year.
  • Plus we've been doing lots of fun stuff including Ask Gareth (as always I need more questions to chew on!).

Overall, I am very proud to be supporting such distinguished clients in making a difference in the world - we must be doing something right.

Looking forward to next year, the lesson I have learnt from 2014 is that we need more mechanisms to deliver value to all of you you when I am personally unavailable. This is a major work in progress and we will be launching several new packages before Christmas. Stay tuned!

 

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23 January 2015

Watch On Demand: 15 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2015

15 for 2015

If you missed our fab 15 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2015 on Wednesday, you can catch it by clicking here (viewer download required).

The webinar was a taster for our Green Academy training series. To get full benefit from the session you should download the workbook here and complete it as you watch.

 

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5 January 2015

Here's to a sustainable 2015!

Goals 2015Happy New Year everyone!

It's the traditional time to set ourselves goals for the year ahead (why we pick the dark, dank days of January for this challenge, I'll never know). As usual, we are totally committed in 2015 to helping you propel your sustainability programme forward, so here are some things you should do right now:

  1. Sign up to the Low Carbon Agenda - full of hints and tips every month, but January's edition will be have some special offers to mark the publication of my fifth book, Accelerating Sustainability using the 80/20 Rule, including free 1 to 1 coaching.
  2. Sign up for the accompanying Accelerating Sustainability using the 80/20 Rule webinar on 28 January to find out how one simple change of mindset can take your sustainability programme to the next level.
  3. Sign up for the Green Academy taster webinar on 21 January: 15 Kick-Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2015 - we'll be inspiring you with some really great ideas from simple tweaks to huge mindset changes.

And don't forget you can always Ask Gareth.

Here's to your sustainability success in 2015!

 

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22 December 2014

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

robin snow

And so it comes to my last blog post of 2014. It's been an interesting year here at Terra Infirma Towers, and here are some of the highlights:

  • We have continued to work with long established clients including Johnson Matthey, Newcastle University and the NHS.
  • Along with some new clients including University of Sunderland, NEPIC and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group (CoSM) had another fantastic year, debating everything from 'making sustainability sustainable' to 'communicating sustainability'.
  • This month saw the publication of my 5th book (and 3rd DoShort): Accelerating Sustainability using the 80/20 Rule.
  • I launched my Ask Gareth sustainability agony uncle series.

Not bad, given that I also got myself re-elected to Newcastle City Council in May - and had to deal with the loss of my dear Mum in October. It's been a roller coaster of a year and I'm eternally grateful to family for always being there for me. I am blessed.

Looking forward to 2015:

  • I'm working on a different version of Green Academy which will be rolled out through the year - in the meantime make sure you sign up to our taster session: '15 Kick-ass #Sustainability Ideas for 2015'
  • I'll be giving an overview of the new book on another free webinar 'Accelerating Sustainability using the 80/20 Rule'
  • I'm looking forward to welcoming some new faces to the Mastermind Group and debating some tantalising new topics.
  • Ask Gareth will continue as long as you keep submitting the questions!
  • And, there's another, full-length book on the go (as always).

That just leaves me to thank you all for all your support, banter and comradeship over the last 12 months and to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and sustainable New Year!

 

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13 December 2013

All your sustainability/CSR questions answered!

awe

I've got an exciting new resource for you coming next year - Ask Gareth - a sustainability agony aunt, for want of a better term.

Here's how it works. You send me tricky questions regarding implementing sustainability/corporate social responsibility, I pick those I think will appeal to a wide audience and answer them. Simple as that.

So what are you waiting for? Submit your questions here.

 

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1 August 2013

Happy Birthday to Us, Happy Birthday to Us!

Terra Infirma is 6 years old!Yep, it was 7 years ago today that we metaphorically smashed a bottle of champagne (the smashing was metaphorical, not the bubbly) on the hull of the good ship Terra Infirma and set sail into unknown seas. And with the great financial hurricane of 07/08 hitting us soon after, we learnt our seamanship the hard way.

Dropping the half-baked nautical metaphor, and pushing modesty aside, here's some of the highlights over the last year:

  • Bringing on board some great new clients such as Viridor, News International, Innovia Films and the Natural Resources Research Council;
  • Continuing to work with established clients such as BAE Systems, Johnson Matthey and the NHS;
  • The publication of my ebook/short book "Green Jujitsu" and the development of the associated animation The Art of Green Jujitsu;
  • The continuation of our ever-popular Green Academy webinars, attracting attendees from around the world, and the first full year of the Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group (CoSM);
  • And to crown it all, getting shortlisted as Green Consultancy of the Year 2013 at the prestigious Business Green Leaders awards.

Not bad in a year which also saw the birth of my third son, Charlie - who seems dedicated to eating us out of house and home.

Looking forward to the year ahead, I'm predicting a steady development of these themes rather than any radical new departures - although I've said that before! One thing I can announce is I am working on a greening the supply chain ebook which will out in the autumn.

So it just leaves me to say thanks to all our readers - especially those who comment on and share my posts here. Splice the mainbrace!

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28 December 2012

Christmas Reading List

If you are looking for some stimulating reading to get away from the overdose of Christmas specials on the telly, here are the 10 blog posts from the last year that I believe are worth another look.

1. 7 Pathetic Excuses to Do Nothing on Corporate Responsibility

2. Musings on a Green Economy (Parts 1 to 4)

3. Nuggets from the Sustainability Mastermind Group (Meeting 1, Meeting 2)

4. CSR and the Myth of "The Poor SME"

5. Greentech: It's the S-curve, Stupid!

6. From Total Football to Total Sustainability

7. Are we on the Cusp of Energy 2.0?

8. Reframing the Environment vs Economy Argument

9. Do we not care about the Polar Bears?

10. Green Jujitsu: Smart Culture Change for Sustainability

Enjoy!

 

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21 December 2012

Aren't we just brilliant? Well, it is Xmas...

You know those really annoying, self-congratulatory round robin letters you get at this time of year? Well, this is my unashamedly boastful version as it has been another good year here at Terra Infirma Towers. Highlights include:

  • We brought some brilliant new clients coming on board (eg Viridor, Innovia Films, Grayling, Cynergy)...;
  • ...while continuing to work with some of the country's foremost organisations (BAE Systems, Johnson Matthey, the NHS);
  • My Green Jujitsu ebook on smart culture change for sustainability was published by Do Sustainability;
  • We set up the Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group (CoSM) and have had a couple of incredibly productive meetings;
  • I delivered keynote speeches and workshops at some really good events, probably enjoying the Energy & Environmental Industries Forum the most as I got away with using the phrase 'subsidy junkies' about parts of the industry;
  • This blog was rated the 7th best green business blog (and, one could argue, the highest ranking genuine blog on the list);
  • My first book, The Three Secrets of Green Business, was published in Japanese, so I can finally say I'm Big In Japan.

That's not to say it has been an easy year. Client budgets are tight, yes, and the purse strings are tighter still! We've had to commit a lot of time and effort to build up enough trust to overcome this problem. But worst of all has been the loss of so many valued contacts through redundancy. It is very telling that the readership of The Low Carbon Agenda has flatlined - predominantly through e-mail addresses going dead - although our regular readers still give us great feedback.

It goes without saying personal highlight of the year was the birth of my third son, Charlie Darwin, in September. He's doing really great and it's fantastic to see my older boys growing so fond of him despite the fact he demands so much of his Mum's attention.

Looking in the crystal ball, I believe 2013 is going to be one of consolidation for Terra Infirma - between Green Academy, the Mastermind Group, our coaching programme and bespoke client projects, we now have a good range of ways of helping our clients navigate the road to sustainability. So in the absence of eureka moments, we'll be focussing on expanding and improving these rather than launching anything radically different.

So that's pretty much it for this year. I do hope you'll join us again in the New Year, but in the meantime, it just leaves me to thank all our clients, partners, suppliers, friends and readers for another great year and wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

 

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1 August 2012

Happy Birthday To Us!

Terra Infirma is 6 years old!Terra Infirma is six years old today!

Six years. Blimey. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that I invested the grand sum of £300.00 in some self-designed stationery and a (self-designed) website and declared the company open for business - other times it feels like another age.

And the last year has been another great one for the company despite the constant backdrop of economic doom-mongering. We are now firmly planted in the FTSE100 zone, continuing to work with clients like Johnson Matthey plc and BAE Systems plc, another two new FTSE100 clients in the project start-up phase, and other big names like the BBC and the NHS. The vast bulk of this work has related to culture change for sustainability.

Our on-line Green Academy continues and now has its own webpages and we continue to get a wide range of participants from micro-businesses up to corporate giants.

One innovation this year has been the Corporate Sustainability Mastermind (CoSM) Group - a small group of senior sustainability practitioners from top companies getting together every quarter for a facilitated exploration of the challenges that they face. I've not been making a big song and dance about CoSM as we are deliberately trying to keep the numbers low, but you can see my notes from the inaugural May meeting here.

And, while I'm not publishing a book this year, my first short e-book is due out in the Autumn. Its provisional title is "Green Jujitsu: The Smart Way to Embed Sustainability into Your Organisation". Needless to say you'll hear plenty about it when it's released.

So, it just leaves me to thank all our clients, partners, friends, followers, subscribers and workshop participants for another great year. I'm looking forward to meeting more of you (online or offline), so don't ever be afraid to come and say hello!

All the best,

Gareth

 

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3 January 2012

Looking Back & Forth

I've found it weird reading the inevitable deluge of "that was 2011, what will 2012 have in store" articles in the press. The consensus of opinion is that the year just gone was one of the most turbulent in recent times and what will happen in the year to come is likewise extremely hard to predict. The weirdness comes from the disconnect between what I read and what I experienced - 2011 was a brilliant year for myself and Terra Infirma. Here's just a few of the highlights:

  • Launching and delivering the Green Academy on-line training system;
  • The publication of my second book, The Green Executive (and getting some great reviews);
  • Bringing on board a roster of fabulous new clients including BAE Systems plc, Johnson Matthey plc and the BBC;
  • Maintaining our working relationships with long term clients like Business to Business Ltd and the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (North East);
  • Delivering guest lectures at Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Northumbria;
  • Through all this, interacting with somewhere in the region of 1500 great individuals from across the UK and indeed around the world. This is the highlight for me as I learn as much from them as they learn from me.

Again unlike the predictions for the world economy, the future of the Eurozone or the Middle East, the year ahead for Terra Infirma seems remarkably stable:

  • A number of our projects are continuing into the New Year and we are currently negotiating extensions to them and others - most involve engaging staff in sustainability;
  • Kicking off the Green Academy cycle again - note there's a free introductory session on 25 January - details here;
  • I'll be doing a webinar for my friends at BusinessGreen.com on 16 Jan - details here;
  • You'll get the usual programme of blog posts here and, of course the monthly Low Carbon Agenda Newsletter which you can subscribe to on the right.

So, I hope you'll come with us in 2012 and together we will leave the world in 2013 a more sustainable place than we found it in 2011!

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22 December 2011

'Tis the Season...

Well, that's just about it from me for 2011, so all that's left is to thank all our readers over the last twelve months and to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Take care & enjoy yourselves,

Gareth

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1 August 2011

Happy Birthday to Us!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!It is five years to the day that I cast off the chains of an institutional career and set up Terra Infirma. I still remember my outline plan - spend August building a dry stone wall in the garden, start marketing myself in September and hopefully get the first project going in October. In the event the wall took another 18 months to build - half way through the first week the phone rang and I had to put down the stone I was holding, go shower off the dirt and get my suit on for what turned out to be my first client meeting. Exciting times.

The last year hasn't been any less exciting. My second book, the Green Executive has been published, we've launched the Green Academy set of green business webinars and we've landed our first two FTSE 100 clients, which means our strategy of shifting from our early reliance on public funding to large private sector clients is starting to bear real fruit.

Looking forward, we will soon be launching a better registration system for Green Academy, starting to turn the webinar sessions into stand alone learning modules and starting a range of e-books. We are also in negotiation with a number of big name prospective clients. All our other services including this blog and The Low Carbon Agenda monthly bulletin will continue.

So, it just leaves me to thank all our clients, partners, friends, followers, subscribers and workshop participants for another great year. I'm looking forward to meeting more of you (online or offline), so don't be afraid to come and say hello!

All the best,

Gareth

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25 March 2011

A little R&R...

By the time you read this, I'll be on one of four trains to Seville in Spain before heading by car to Ronda in Andalucia. So Terra Infirma Towers will be closing for a couple of weeks while the family and I get used to the fact I'm four decades young over many bottles of Rioja.

Blogging here will be on holiday frequency - once or twice a week depending on whether the villa's wi-fi works. Full service will re-commence on 11 April.

Hasta luego, amigos!

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