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Global Peace Marches 2019-2020 from India and Senegal

On October 2, 2019 – the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, a 14,000 km, one-year global march for justice and peace, called Jai Jagat 2020, will start from New Delhi to Geneva. Winding through 10 countries with nonviolence training and events on key justice themes along the way, and joining with separate marches starting from a number of countries in Europe and northwest Africa as well as delegates from around the world, participants will be welcomed and hosted by the City and Canton of Geneva for a week (26 September – 2nd October 2020) of workshops, advocacy meetings and cultural events.

This initiative urges the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a dialogue with UN agencies in Geneva. Four Pillars of Advocacy related to the SDGs are at the core of the Jai Jagat campaign. These are: eradication of poverty, social inclusion, climate justice and the nonviolent resolution of conflicts.

Local committees all along the route will organize daily events, and there will be daily non-violence trainings, making this a year-long practice of non-violence. In some countries new families and new individuals with different stories will be included in the march.

​The arrival of the great march of Jai Jagat bearing the message of Gandhi and the voice of the voiceless is the perfect occasion, through a nonviolent dialogue, to promote various solutions for a world that works for everyone. To welcome the march, a festival/forum of change will be launched; combining, according to Gandhi’s vision, individual transformation with collective change. An innovative contribution to the key role of Geneva in the success of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations.

The Caravan For The Earth To Live

The POUR QUE VIVE LA TERRE caravan offers its public a meeting place for the diffusion and sharing of actions that bring hope.

In agriculture, ecology, politics, economics, social and cultural alternative solutions exist. The caravan creates a space for sharing so that these solutions can grow through the commitment of all. It takes place on average one week in each place to offer conferences, screenings, shows, parties and workshops. We think about it, we learn about it, we train ourselves, we celebrate.

WHY?

In the face of the current economic, social and environmental crises, many individuals are seeking a profound change in the way we live our societies. But many feel that they are helpless. What can I do about it?

Vectors of positive transformations, carriers of hope, the various alternatives underway are already determining the advent of a better world where the human values of solidarity, sobriety and respect for nature will be at the heart of our projects and our businesses.

The caravan is associated with the Delhi-Geneva Jai Jagat 2020 march, organized by Ekta Parishad, which will arrive in Geneva in October 2020.

Community Supported Agriculture and Climate Change

How does the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) contribute to the fight against global warming? Judith Hitchman, President of Urgenci, explains the role of Community Supported Agriculture and its benefits in mitigating our impact on the climate.

Written by Judith Hitchman, President of Urgenci

Climate change, or climate crisis as it is now more correctly called, is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there, and is acting as though it is invisible. Yet it is the single most deadly threat to humanity and life on earth. This September will see several key global events, from the Climate Action Summit to the Global Climate Strike from September 20th to 27th.

Sadly, when you work deeply on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at UN level, you fast realise that they are built on an inherent growth model that continues to exploit more planetary reserves and fossil fuels than our planet or climate can support. And that the indicators that exist can not be changed. But that should not and hopefully will not stop us from acting on the ground!

Yet although we have probably now reached the tipping point where the damage to our climate has become irreversible, we can still do much to mitigate the impacts. And indeed we must address the issues as urgently as possible, with legal frameworks at State and Local Authority level. Placing the responsibility on individual consumers is not and can not provide more than a sticking plaster on the haemorrhage of runaway climate change.

So let us look at some of the aspects where it might be possible to make small but significant impacts to mitigate the burning issues. And burning they are right now, from the Amazon to the Arctic…

The benefits of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Peasant agriculture, small-scale family farming, artisinal fisheries and Indigenous practice combine in agroecology to provide us with a science, a practice and a social movement that includes solidarity economy. This has been recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the 10 Elements of Agroecology. And short/direct food chains, especially Community Supported Agriculture can be placed high on the list of linking producers to consumers to build sustainable territorial food systems. The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model works on the basis of a tandem of producer/consumer direct localised solidarity-based relations, and has the concept of shared risks and benefits at the heart of the concept.

How does CSA benefit the climate? Well firstly, agroecological practice involves using no chemical inputs or plastics (in some cases this may involve a transitional period). It uses techniques such as mulching and cover crops as well as the use of good old-fashioned manure as fertiliser. And it is possible to fight insects and pests through either companion crops or natural insecticides produced on-farm. So no fossil fuels or externalisation involved.

There are also a number of ways in which the impact on the soil can be minimised, such as ‘no till’ or using draft horses to plough the fields. Again, no fossil fuels involved. In the case of harvesting, much is done manually as well, as in the case of Rupert Dunn, a wonderful peasant-baker who grows his own heritage grains in Wales, and harvests the fields using a scythe! In most CSAs, there are also farm days when the CSA members come and help on the farm. My grandsons soon learnt that picking up potatoes on their CSA was hard, back-breaking work. They now have a new appreciation of what work goes into the potato crop!

As the climate becomes increasingly unstable, it is essential to use local peasant seeds that can adapt progressively to these changes. They stand a far better chance of resilience, compared with hybrid or even GM- CRISPR modified seeds sold by the big seed companies. They are also far higher in nutritional value, both instrinsically and because the soil is healthy, living soil with a rich micro-biome. Which leads to a healthy human micro-biome and healthier, happier people!

In terms of nutrition, climate change is set to reduce the nutritional value of food in a serious way. The agroecological approach and fast food-to-fork turn over means that nutritional value is optimised. Many greens lose 30% of their nutritional value and vitamins in particular after the first 3 days. Chemical inputs (pesticides and fetilisers) are now proven to cause over 20% more cancers than a diet of organic/agroecologically grown food. So imagine if your salad is grown in the South of Spain, on a farm using chemical inputs, and has travelled for several days to reach your supermarket…

The impact of our current model

The global trend is also the capture of the complete food chain by the industrial food companies (the same groups as those who own the seeds, the inputs, and the farms also own the food processing companies and supermarket chains…). Sadly “cheap” processed food and ready meals that are high in fat and sugar are widely bought by many consumers. People have in many cases forgotten how to cook, if indeed they ever knew how, which is the norm for many of the younger generation. This represents a quadruple danger: the destruction of the environment and climate change through industrial agriculture; the myth of “cheap” food based on exploitation of labour and lack of real nutritional content in the food (calories versus nutrition is a serious global issue); the excessive use of fossil fuel in the processing, transport and excessive packaging. And finally the cost of excessive healthcare linked to obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) from eating an unhealthy diet.

This article would not be complete without some mention of climate change and the management of our rivers and oceans. Excessive chemical inputs on large industrial conventional farms and release of slurry has created a very toxic situation for many of our rivers through the run-off first into streams and rivers and then into the oceans. And this in turn contributes to the acidification of our oceans. And just as large-scale industrial farms are producing poor quality meat and vegetables, industrial fisheries are destroying the oceans. Artisinal fishers can provide local communities with fresh fish, and there are a growing number of Community Supported Fisheries that operate in the same way as Community Supported Agriculture. Urgenci is currently working to develop this activity.

In terms of sustainable territorial food systems, and CSA in particular, there is also a low carbon footprint concerning the delivery from farms to the eaters. Delivery points are often in the schools or a neighbourhood café, so parents can easily access these points without having to use their car any more than they already would be using it. It is aslo quite common to have multiple producers deliver at the same point, thus allowing consumers to do a ‘one-stop-shop’ just like at the supermarket. Except that it is far more convivial!

The importance of community lands

There is also a shift to the remunicipalisation and relocalisation of public procurement: moving to local food production and preparation for school meals and Green Public Procurement is a strong emerging trend in many cities. It can even involve Community Land Trusts, or use local Municipal Land to grow the food. The question of land is indeed one of the key issues today in building sustainable territorial food systems and guaranteed urban rural linkages. Green belts need to be preserved to ensure food production can continue, and access to land for young producers also needs to be facilitated.

Community Land Trusts are one of the key ways of doing this, as well as incubator farms and agroecology farmer-to-farmer field training schools. Local Authorities have a vital role to play in facilitating these aspects. Good policy exists in terms of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance and Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries, as well as the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries. Likewise, there are a growing number of farmer-led and consumer led co-operative shops, and many different manifestations of a growing movement to relocalise our food systems and fight climate change. This shift is clearly aligned with many values of solidarity economy, generally involves participatory governance, and has the growing implication of Local Authorities at different levels. Different mechanisms exist to ensure affordability for those who are socially excluded.

The commitment to CSA does involve learning to use what is in your weekly share and to cook somewhat differently than if you make a shopping list and go to the supermarket, but it is a collective adventure and generally a return to how our grandparents ate and cooked. Community Supported Agriculture and Community Supported Fisheries are by far the most committed model, and the fight to re-appropriate our food system through food sovereignty and the right to food lies at the core. Human rights are indivisible. The rights of Mother Earth and the right to a healthy nutritious diet are closely linked and at the core of our fight to stop runaway climate change.

Solidarity Oxford mapping the city’s solidarity economy

Solidarity Oxford is a website and digital map which has been produced as part of the Solidarity Economy Association’s Mapping the Solidarity Economy in Oxford pilot project.

Oxford has a whole host of organisations, projects and people working to create a just and sustainable city. From swap shops and childcare circles to housing co-ops and community farms, we’ve got a thriving network of initiatives meeting the needs of our communities in ways that put people, and our environment, first.

Around the world, activity like this is known as the solidarity economy. In many cities and countries – from New York City to Barcelona, and from Mali to Brazil – solidarity economy initiatives play a fundamental role in people’s lives.

In New York City, a group of people came together to create a map of their solidarity economy, and this map has helped to make their city’s communities more onnected, their projects and initiatives stronger, and has helped more people to be able to access the products and services they need in ethical and sustainable ways.

We’ve been exploring whether creating a map in Oxford is similarly helpful for our communities.

A big part of SEA’s mission is to make the solidarity economy in the UK stronger, and to encourage more people to find out about it and support in their local area. Our Mapping the Solidarity Economy in Oxford pilot project is about celebrating what’s important in our city’s communities, and showing how all the different projects, initiatives and organisations are helping to create a more just and sustainable world.

Together, we are creating an alternative economy based on cooperation and self-determination, which empowers everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or background, and which cares about the health and well-being of people and the planet.

Our longer-term vision is also to show how the solidarity economy that exists in communities, cities and regions in the United Kingdom is part of a much larger movement of people around the world, all working to transform our economic system into a system that works for all.

Download our Pilot Project Report

More info here

What we learned from the 10th ILO SSE Academy

by Elena Tzamouranou, DOCK (Greece)

Several members of Ripess Europe participated in the 10th edition of the ILO Academy on SSE that was held in Turin, Italy, from the 3rd to the 7th June 2019. We expanded our knowledge on frameworks and discussed SSE and the Future of Work along with over 100 people from all around the world responsible for the promotion of SSE, including policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and representatives of workers’ and employers’ organizations.

Some insight on the issues addressed

The very well organized and diverse program included discussions about policies in different countries and contexts, challenges and opportunities, study visits, but also how the social and solidarity economy relates to social and environmental issues, such as the care, informal, green, rural economy and gender equality.

The main three key topics addressed and linked to social solidarity economy were:

  • Future of work
  • Human-in-command approach to technology
  • Social inclusion of vulnerable groups

What we’ve learned

Admitting each session and discussion included useful information and conclusions, we’ve chosen to focus on some points that we consider to be fundamental:

  • As emerged from several cases two pre-conditions have to be met in order for SSE to be visible and develop on a national level: related legislation and supporting financial instruments
  • SSE development on a national level is significant but not sufficient enough. It also requires the involvement of local authorities, as many cities experience a transition in their social and economic landscape. Examples of the different local realities are the cities of: Milan (Italy), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Guro (Seoul), and Kef (Tunisia)
  • The issue on defining SSE remains up-to-date and is always a subject of creative debate! Following four possibilities on defining SSE were pointed out from Marcelo Vieta:
    • Accommodates to the capitalist system; fills in gaps due to dwindling state and growing inequalities (neoliberal view)
    • Reforms or mitigates capitalist system (social-democratic view)
    • Rethinks and re-configures socio-economic life (revolutionary view)
    • Already existing community activities and assets, growing the SSE as a plurality of the economy in ”diverse economies” (see: Elgue,2015; J.K. Gibson-Graham, 2005; Miller, 2010; EURICSE; EMES; CIRIEC, etc.)

To read our view on Convergences and Differences in Concepts, Definitions and Frameworks, please visit: http://www.ripess.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/RIPESS_Vision-Global_EN.pdf

  • The importance of education and training in SSE and SSE-related subjects was pointed out as a need by the majority of the participants in different occasions during the 10th ILO Academy.
  • Another point is if the private sector could play a positive role in transforming the socio-economic model. Some examples in collaborating across the boundaries of private and non-private sector were presented. Could such examples form sustainable models or how imperative are such collaborations remains open to discuss in future.

Conclusion

SSE doesn’t guarantee that everything will be right (Jean Fabre)! Indeed, as we pointed out during the ILO Academy in numerous occasions, working in a different way, having co-ownership and self-management is a imperative, but this alone doesn’t change the socio-economic paradigm. We need to shift the focus from the enterprise to the community and think in a completely different way (as Jason Nardi pointed out).

How does a successful initiative or cooperative look like? Do we define success by the numbers of members? Do we define success by the profit generated the previous year? Sustainability is not only on being profitable today, but it’s on being sustain on economic, social and environmental terms. We need to redefine success. Success can and should be defined by the social change, the social outcomes and social impact accomplished through the economic activity.

Moreover we need to concentrate on communities: on the needs of the territory, on how to transform our economies on each different context and not to take a blueprint that comes from an unspecified model of the market. Only then can we really change the paradigm from a growth market oriented paradigm to a community well being and that is the real transformation we are looking forward.

The ILO academy was organized by the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO). Partners: Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprise (EURICSE), International Centre of Research on Social and Cooperative Economy (CIRIEC), and Fondazione Italia Sociale.

To access the materials of the 10th edition of the ILO Academy on SSE please visit: http://ssecollectivebrain.net/2019/06/07/materials-of-the-10th-ilo-academy-on-sse-turin-presentations-videos-photos-publications-etc/

International conference launched by UNTFSSE on the role of SSE in the implementation of the SDGs
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From 24 to 26 June 2019, RIPESS was in Geneva (Switzerland) to attend this important international conference where participants discussed the results and role of the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

How can the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs)? Can local SSE projects have an impact on global development? The answers to these and many other questions were discussed at the International Conference RIPESS members presented several papers and organized the parallel session “Building the SSE movement from local to global”.

It was an opportunity to explain the alternative development model advocated by RIPESS, as well as the process of global convergence that is currently being promoted with the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies 2020.

And then we had two presentations from RIPESS members. First, Yvon Poirier of RIPESS North America presented the case study “Association for Sarva Seva Farms – ASSEFA-India: 50 Years of Sustainable Development”. You can consult the complete document here

Then, Denison Jayasooria, President of ASEC – RIPESS Asia, presented “Community Forestry Projects in Malaysia: People’s Participation in the Implementation of the ISF”. The full document is available here

The second day began with a presentation by Judith Hitchman, President of Urgenci, Community Supported Agriculture around the world and member of the RIPESS Board of Directors, entitled “How Community Supported Agriculture contributes to the realisation of Solidarity Economy in the SDGs”. It showed the deep ramifications that are possible in the specific sector of agriculture supported by the community and SWM. The full text of the article can be found here.

In the closing session, RIPESS members Judith, Denison and Laura Cicciarelli highlighted the main messages of the past two days with the OECD and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

Overall, the evaluation made at the closing session was that, throughout the two-day conference, the contribution of SSE to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals was highlighted in the case studies presented.

For the future, it was agreed that the UNTFSSE, to which RIPESS actively contributes, should transmit messages from the field and prepare to work on a UN resolution on #ESS.

You can find the videos of the various sessions #SSE4SDGS on the Facebook page of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

DOCK (Greece) becomes an official support center for SSE

Since April 2019, DOCK along with 16 other SSE entities in Greece are functioning as official support centers for SSE, an action funded by the Greek government and the EU.

The main objective of this action is to provide free services to people or entities who want to develop economic activity in the field of SSE either by giving general info and introductory documentation to those interested or through support and personalized counseling for organizations already economically active in SSE.

Having already supported ten of these SSE initiatives and groups of people at the stage of the initial idea, the aim during the implementation of this action is to contribute in making SSE more visible by strengthening and enhancing the SSE practices and the actors behind them.

10th ILO Academy : from the Future of Work to changing the economy through SSE

By Nora Inwinkl / Solidarius Italia

The 10th International Labour Organisation Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy took place in Turin from the 3rd to the 7th June. It was been co-organised by the International Labour Organisation, celebrating its first century of existence this year. Looking at the Future of Work, it was an opportunity given to people interested or already engaged in the promotion of SSE around the world, including policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, representatives of workers and employers’ organisations to exchange on the need to impact the economy through SSE in a sustainable perspective. More than 100 people from all the world were involved (except for Oceania), carrying their different knowledge, traditions, cultures, frameworks and needs. Thanks to an agreement with the organisers, four members of the RIPESS Europe network from Portugal, Greece and Italy were able to attend, as well as Beatrice Alain (Chantier de l’Economie sociale, Quebec) and Jason Nardi (RIPESS coordinator) who were among the invited speakers.

The core of the Academy reflected our market and labour situation, focusing on the challenges we are facing in several fields: economy, technology, environment, climate change, democracy, participation, and others. Despite the diversity of participants, both in terms of origins and in terms of career orientations, everybody agreed on one specific and essential point: the system we are living in is not sustainable at all and the solutions promoted by various governments and the main stakeholders are not relevant. For this reason, the Academy put forward several important issues comprising different form of enterprises and/or organisations of the SSE (SSEEOs – Social and Solidarity Economy Enterprises and Organisations), the legal framework existing or that could be promoted in the different countries both at the local and national level, financial mechanisms and tools, and many others.

The report entitled « Work for a Brighter Future » written by the Global Commission on the Future of Work served as an illustration of the advocated work model. That is is a « human-centred agenda for the future of work that strengthens the social contract by placing people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice».

It is important to move from the local scale and, particularly, from the local expertise and practices, highlighting the specificities of each territory. During these five days, many practitioners presented their initiatives and their experiences, sharing knowledge and different form of innovation and receiving several comments and suggestions. Different experiences developed in different territories but all guided from similar values and principals, those of the SSE paradigm, enhanced in contrast with the neoliberal one.

The importance of the “practices” has been highlighted together with the study fields, organised during the second day in the cities of Turin, Ivrea and Cuneo. It gave the opportunity to the participants to discover the implementation of SSE through virtuous experiences.

There is still a long way to go and probably one of the things that have to be improved is the construction of a common vocabulary and a common framework to implement and develop SSE in a transversal and transectorial way. It is important to work in both direction: the bottom-up, implementing and supporting local initiatives, and the top down, working with the local and national authorities in promoting SSE laws and policies. Thus, as a participant said during the closing plenary, we need to work on “SSE in all policies”.

« Moving towards a new economic system » : RIPESS Europe at the 7th CIRIEC International Research Conference

This year’s conference of CIRIEC took place in Bucharest, Romania from the 6th-9th June 2019 with an ambitious title : « Moving towards a new Economic system ». CIRIEC  (International Centre of Research and Information on the Public, Social and Cooperative Economy) is a network of international scientific and research organizations, set up in 1947.

Dražen Šimleša, our network coordinator, represented RIPESS Europe in several sessions as well as in the International Scientific Commission “Social and Cooperative Economy” of CIRIEC and participated in the meeting that took place before the official opening of the conference.

It was a special occasion since for the first time the conference was organised in Central Eastern Europe, a region of the continent which has its own historical challenges and opportunities for SSE, given the fact that Social and Solidarity Economy brings in a new paradigm of governance founded on democracy and participation.

The participants discussed about the role of SSE and the current global challenges, with a ‘transformational vision’, focusing on themes such as workers owned enterprises and the future of decent work, providing food sustainability, sovereignty and access , SSE eco-systems-governance, networks, visibility and policies. Thus, a good place for RIPESS to be among other 250 participants from all over the world.

Hopefully this will bring closer practitioners and social movements activists for SSE with scientific sector that can support us with their researches and analyses.

See the programme and some contributions here.

The 6th Conference of the Regulating for Decent Work : “Work and well-being in the 21st century”

By Laura Aufrère

The RDW conference in 2017 explored some of the key dimensions which have impacted the world of work. The 2019 RDW conference will continue to focus on the future of work, to advance our understanding of what innovative institutions and transformative policies could help in ensuring a more equitable and just society. In their papers, contributors are invited to propose new ideas and policies that could help the global community in shaping a better future of work with a focus on: (i) transitions and transformations in the world of work; (ii) rethinking capitalism; (iii) well-being in the world of work; and (iv) building and renewing institutions: a social contract for the 21st century. This conference will contribute to the global debates during the International Labour Office (ILO)’s 100th anniversary in 2019.

Members of RIPESS Europe will participate to this conference, sharing analysis regarding the major contribution of SSE to the future of decent work, facing the environmental-capitalocene crisis, and the challenge of building solidarity between generations (some parts or the world becoming structurally older, some younger).

Following RIPESS Europe contribution for the open call regarding the development of the European Social Pillar of Social Rights, some element that will be communicated during that conference will be published in the next RIPESS Europe newsletter.

Link: www.ilo.org/rdw2019

The World Social Forum of Transformative Economies. Promoting synergies

By Josette Combes

The preparatory meeting for the WSFTE was held in Barcelona on 5, 6 and 7 April 2019. It brought together more than 300 people from all over the world, more than half of whom came naturally from Catalonia and Spain. For RIPESS international members from Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and more from Europe (18 countries represented), this meeting was an excellent opportunity to share their experiences with people working in other parts of the world and in very diverse fields.

There were representatives of structures dedicated to the development of municipalities, the defence of agro-ecology, the promotion of eco-feminism, ecohousing, social currencies and ethical finance, popular education, alternative media and, of course, social and solidarity economy networks.
The place was well suited for this meeting. The Aula Magna University in Barcelona offered suitable rooms and above all an outdoor space conducive to informal exchanges during meals. The animation of the many workshops was very structured and but too vague at times. The participants sometimes considered that what was proposed for reflection pre-formatted the course of the debates a little too much. It must be recognized that the ambition of the meeting required that it be planned. The whole thing gave the impression of a promising potential but one that lacked the space and time to deploy further.

This test run augurs well for a series of rich interactions but also shows the difficulties in establishing the convergences that are essential to ensure a future for the species living on the planet, an increasingly important part of which is threatened with extinction, and ultimately the human species itself. Even if a certain awareness is beginning to grow, especially among the younger generations, it is urgent to gather all the energies to shift the current economic paradigms from a mad rush to profit towards a rational management of resources and a better social and ecological balance. All the parameters mentioned above will allow this fundamental change of direction.
All these dimensions, worked on by groups in a way that is still too often considered marginal or experimental, are still fragmented. Together, they form a coherent holistic approach in which each party can consider itself a legitimate actor. It is not only a question of fighting against but also of proposing concrete, current and effective actions, capable, through their demonstration, of attracting the support of a larger mass of people who will themselves become actors of change. Finally, these meetings, by providing an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and know-how, contribute to strengthening the determination of the activists of all these networks and in a context where threats from authoritarian governments are increasing, this last point is far from being superfluous.
To achieve its objective, the WSFTE must adopt a more “intercultural” approach that better articulates the networks that were present this spring in Barcelona, so that all those who have visited it feel really empowered.

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