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License Needed to Practice Permaculture  RSS feed

 
Charlie Michaels
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I recently met this nursery lady from Maryland who said that in her state and as well as many other states; you need a license to be able to "landscape" other people's properties and then charge people for it.

I think that's an example of government retardation. Obviously the current landscapers of our nation are totally allowed to vanquish native plant and animal habitat by creating vast swathes of ornamental lawns mixed which plastic looking flowers which don't look great yet they destroy ecosystems. Ok, there's some personal hate in that.

The point is if that the state government's "landscaper license" doesn't prevent landscapers from totally obliterating native ecosystems and replacing them with input heavy ornamental, what then is the point? How pointless.

I'm looking to design great Permaculture gardens for my friends and the people I know just like I did my parent's place. A couple of my friends would love to have their lawns Permacultured, but of course I have to charge them something. So if it happens NJ also has this license requirement, I could get fined or sent to jail for not having this license? It seems dumb.

A terrible fear of mine is that someday, anyone who wants to plant anything might require a "landscaping license", effectively eliminating all hope of a resilient local food economy.

What do you guys think about the whole landscaper license requirement?
 
Tyler Ludens
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You're not "landscaping" you're planting a food garden with friends and family.  If they happen to give you a gift of money, that's not taxable (see "gift tax".

Mind you I am not talking about a business of any kind!  I am talking about helping friends and family plant a garden.  This is a very important distinction.  If you set up a business to do this sort of thing, it is probably best to adhere to the regulations of your locale.

I hope this helps. 


IRS rules on gifts: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=108139,00.html
 
Paul Cereghino
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You might also research the difference between "landscape maintenance", which can involve soil preparation and planting, and "landscape construction" (which might include construction of a retaining wall greater than 4 feet high).
 
tel jetson
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I believe that licensing exists, in theory, to prevent incompetents from sullying the reputation of an industry or causing real harm.  in practice, it can end up being a way for governments to raise some more revenue and for existing businesses to limit the number of players in their game.  licensing is also good for trade schools that offer required courses.  the theoretical justifications may be sound.

in the interest of commiseration: in Oregon (and probably Washington and maybe elsewhere) a business can either design or install landscaping, but not both.  very silly.

I'm sure there are ways around your problem.  payment in kind is technically under the jurisdiction of government, but it's much easier to keep invisible.  it might also be in your interest to promote alternative currencies.  again, the government would probably like to have a piece of that pie as well, but it's been proven easy to conduct such business without their meddling.
 
                    
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Landscape architecture is a discipline that is trying to monopolize a particular subset of landscaping. I can see real potential for a conflict between that group and permaculture designers. Here is a how they define their craft:

www.asla.org/workarea/downloadasset.aspx?id=3652

Apparently, there are two different types of state laws that regulate landscape architecture. A title act merely limits who can call themselves a landscape architect. Under a title act, it is still legal for anyone to develop a landscape plan, install plants or build drainage structures .... they just have to be careful about what they call themselves.

A practice act defines landscape architecture, and then prohibits anyone from engaging in those activities unless they are a licensed landscape architect. 

 
                            
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licensing is always about limiting competition and raising money. Look at all those licensed drivers that try to kill you everyday. Try to open a liquor store or grow tobacco.
 
                    
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I believe that licensing exists, in theory, to prevent incompetents from sullying the reputation of an industry or causing real harm.  in practice, it can end up being a way for governments to raise some more revenue and for existing businesses to limit the number of players in their game.  licensing is also good for trade schools that offer required courses.  the theoretical justifications may be sound.


Yes - in the case of running a plant nursery in my state, there is an annual inspection for certain diseases and pests (tough inspection for citrus, not so stringent for most other plants). There is also a requirement that nurseries which buy plants or supplies on credit be bonded to cover their debts. And by being registered, the state can communicate with nurseries regarding new regulations regarding pests, irrigation laws, workman's compensation, etc.  If those are the reasons that a profession is regulated, then it may be reasonable. But there is always the risk that regulations are added based on pressure from existing businesses to reduce competition from new businesses, and that can be destructive.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Paintboy wrote:
licensing is always about limiting competition and raising money. Look at all those licensed drivers that try to kill you everyday. Try to open a liquor store or grow tobacco.


It's legal to grow small amounts of tobacco for personal use.

 
                                  
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As others have said, licenses are used  A.) as a barrier to entry to protect profits of existing firms and B.) as a way to know where to send the tax bill.

I'm sure Massachusetts is among the worst states in terms of regulatory burden. Short of moving, Thoreau-style civil disobedience might work.  While you're at it, get those other scoundrels, the unlicensed barbers, to join your campaign.
 
                            
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Ludi wrote:
It's legal to grow small amounts of tobacco for personal use.




I know. Got to love it. Big brother tells us which plants we can grow, how much and if we can trade it with someone else. I'm feeling all kinds of free.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Well, thing is there's ways around most of these issues.  If you don't try to have a business or sell stuff, but instead engage in the Sharing or gift economy, you will be violating neither the letter nor the spirit of the law.  I just don't buy it when folks say "We can't do anything different - Big Brother won't let us!"  They just aren't using their imaginations, I think.    I've never once been prevented from doing something I wanted to do by "Them." 
 
                              
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Sadly the government does not recognize that we are deserving of that basic respect. If you grow a crop which could be sold across state lines, they claim a right to tell you what to do. And of course that is just the feds..

If you barter or trade in any fashion, the IRS considers that income for both parties, and demands a cut, despite the lack of any monetary profit.

That said, yes agorist practices, like gifting, barter, sharing, and trading are all great ways to fly under the radar. It makes it much more difficult for the thugs to know what you are doing and that they are not getting "their" cut.

Even though government denies us our individual moral value, we have to keep on respecting each other and treating each other as worthwhile, if for no other reason than to show just how obscene government is.
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's why I always promote the Gift Economy instead of barter or trade, which the guvimint wants to get their mitts in. But the Gift Economy depends on trust and mutual support, so it is difficult for some people. 
 
                              
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Gift economy is not an economy at all, but only a tiny portion of the barter and trade economy. You give a gift expecting something in return (usually the pleasure of the other person, but sometimes status or something else) but there is still at trade going on, just one where the recipient is not allowed to know explicitly what she "owes."

Don't get me wrong, much in fact almost all of what I have done over the last three years has been within the gift "economy" label, though I am clear in my own mind what I expect and what I've received in compensation for that which I have given. I get it, and I love that aspect of agorism/voluntaryism. It is important if for no other reason that it highlights the degree of caring for another person.

But economically speaking it necessarily can only always be a tiny fraction of any economy because it requires surplus, and as most of us here I suspect know, there are lots of times when we do not have surplus, whether of time, money, veg, or whatever..

Still, please understand that this is my philosophical response (I am a formally trained philosopher whatever that amounts to.. ) but all the while not a criticism of practicing what you are doing and encouraging..
 
              
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I have heard one person say the only time you need a license is when you are involved in illegal activity. Think James Bond - license to kill.

Note that taxes apply to the face value of currency. Barter is taxable at market. So, what is the discount rate in your club buying, and what is the best face value of currency to use? Also, there is a difference in contracting payment before the action than after service rendered.
 
                            
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True True.

The idea of a driver's license has always bugged me. The thought of paying for permission to use my property (car) on the roads I pay for (fuel tax etc.) just doesn't sit well with me. If it was a safety issue then most people would have lost their license long ago.
 
paul wheaton
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(ahem)

As the moderator, I would like to remind folks that there are certain topics that I try to discourage on these forums.  Mostly politics and religion.  As for permaculture stuff, there is a small army of people that hate my guts because I discourage discussion of the third ethic and alternate economic models. 

Sometimes these topics can be discussed in the "meaningless drivel" forum - but if one post shows up that bothers me, I delete the whole thread

If people want to talk about how my choices are stupid, that is for the tinkering forum. 

This forum is discussion of the nuts and bolts of permaculture:  polycultures, guilds, hugelkultur.  I think it is fair to consider how getting paid to do permaculture stuff lines up with laws requiring landscapers to be licensed.  And I think it is fair to say one way is that you show up and help a friend - and your friend helps you.  But I really don't want this thread to devolve into topics that I am trying to keep out of this forum.

 

 
                    
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Of course driver licenses are not going to single-handedly turn all driver's into safe drivers. It sets a rather low bar - one needs to have a basic understanding of the signs and rules of the road, and have eyesight that is not too bad.

I knew someone who had failing eyesight, and they would not admit that they were a hazard to others until they repeatedly failed the eye exam and lost their license. Then they stopped driving. Obviously, this license system is not going to magically remove the drunk drivers or airheads who don't pay attention when they drive. But it does do what it set out to do.

The driver's license or state ID also serves as a generally accepted proof of identity that is rather useful for many forms of interaction and commerce - it's value to a modern society far exceeds the $5 or $10 a year that we pay for it. My license and registration is a drop in the bucket compared to the car payment, insurance, maintenance and gas. 

While some political groups might want anyone to be able to perform complex surgery or fly a commercial jet without a license or permit of any type, I personally don't see those requirements as unreasonable. It's not that the present system of regulation is perfect (clearly it isn't) - but the complete absence of regulation would lead other larger problems, IMO.

I don't think that anyone can make the case that government action is inherently bad or inherently good. Some policies are stupid, short-sighted and lacking in value. Other policies make sense. The problem is not that government has decided to regulate pesticides and banned a few - it is that they do not value human and ecosystem health enough and have done too little. 

On the original post: has anyone actually looked into what the restrictions are on practicing permaculture as a professional activity in Maryland, New Jersey, or any other state? Or is this just an abstract BS session where people vent their attitudes in a fact-free manner?  Exactly what is involved in getting the 'landscaping license'?  Does it really interfere with practicing permaculture as a hobby or on a professional basis?

And since we are venting, let me say that I really disdain MrChuck's use of the word 'retarded' to describe something he doesn't like... I suggest it reflects immaturity or callousness.
 
                          
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Well said, Jonathan; right down to the "retarded" comment.

I would be interested to know what actual state law is. My guess is that it is title law rather than practice law in most states. In California, a number of landscape architects are taking courses and getting certified in permaculture, so that they can also call themselves permaculture designers; I rarely hear permaculturists express anger that people not trained in permaculture are not supposed to call themselves permaculture designers. I suppose someone will try to define permaculture design under law at some point, both to protect us from someone claiming we're violating landscape architecture practice law and to protect others from being swindled by individuals claiming to practice permaculture who actually have no idea what they're doing. Like everything else, there will be good and bad effects of that.

Here are two instances of practice law regarding landscape architecture.

From the Florida Board of Landscape Architects:

"1. What are the basic requirements for me to become a Registered Landscape Architect?

To acquire a license to practice Landscape Architecture in Florida you must have a degree in Landscape Architecture and pass sections A through E of the Landscape Architectural Registration Examination (LARE). You will also be required to take the Florida laws and rules examination. One year of practical experience in landscape architectural work is also required. Please check the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) website at www.clarb.org for examination information and application deadline dates.

2. I have a four year degree that is not in Landscape Architecture and I have six years
experience in Landscape architecture work. Can I still apply to take the exam and
acquire a license?

An individual who has six years or more experience can apply and submit plans and samples of projects they have worked on for the board to review and make a determination.

...
My note: How would that happen if you could not do landscape architecture work without a landscape architecture license?
...


15. Do I need a certificate of authorization to do landscaping or landscape design?

No, you do not need a license to do landscaping or landscape design. You may want to check
with your city and county for any licensing requirements they may have.

16. Do I need a certificate of authorization to start a lawn service?

No, you do not need a license to start a lawn service. You may want to check with your city and county for any licensing requirements they may have.

17. Do I need a Landscape Architecture license to design golf courses?

No, you do not need a license to design golf courses. You may want to check with your city and county for any licensing requirements they may have."


I found this by googling "florida landscape architecture regulation".

Googling the same thing but for California brought me here: http://www.latc.ca.gov/laws_regs/pa_all.shtml#5615.

Here's a relevant excerpt:

"5641. Chapter Exceptions, Exemptions

This chapter shall not be deemed to prohibit any person from preparing drawings for the conceptual design and placement of tangible objects and landscape features or plans, drawings, and specifications for the selection, placement, or use of plants for a single family dwelling. Construction documents, details, or specifications for the tangible objects or landscape features, and alteration of site requiring grading and drainage plans shall be prepared by a licensed professional as required by law."

Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor licensed to practice law. I am a user of internet search engines, a practice which is not licensed by any state.
 
Charlie Michaels
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Agreed that I could've worded that alot better. I'll leave the word retarded up so people know what I said.

I'm not against licenses in general. Its just that a landscaping license angers me a bit because I see the poor work that so many landscapers in my area are doing and I'm thinking, "YOU went for 4 years of college and had 4 years of practical experience, and this is the best you can do?" (that's the New Jersey requirement). Yea, that sounds snotty. But, can't they do any better??


"An applicant for certification as a landscape architect shall hold a bachelor�s or higher degree in an accredited landscape architecture curriculum from a college or university and have engaged in practical landscape architectural work for four (4) years after completion of the educational requirement and has successfully complete within five years of application an examination on landscape architecture issues specific to New Jersey and successfully complete within five years of application the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE)."


If New Jersey was pumping out highly skilled landscape designers that make beautiful native gardens that require very little irrigation, I would say, hey, great job New Jersey! But its 8 years of experience and education to produce landscapers who do little more than cut grass. It doesn't take 8 years to attain that skill; the neighborhood boy down the street can do it.

Cut the landscape requirement and maybe we'll get some daring young designers who make great designers. When it takes EIGHT YEARS to be able to charge for your work, you get much less new talent and enthusiasm in the field. Everyone's 30 by the time they can get their landscape license.

I hope this is not going in the direction of political mudpit; its just the reality of landscaping regulations.
 
                    
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OK - back on track.

It looks to me like NJ has a title law - anyone is free to do the things related to landscaping, they simply cannot call themselves a 'landscape architect.'  Most landscapers probably are not certified landscape architects and I suspect many are self-educated or learned on the job.

"Practice of landscape architecture" means any service in
which the principles and methodology of landscape
architecture are applied in consultation, evaluation and
planning. induding the preparation and filing of sketches,
drawings, plans and specifications, and responsible
administration of contracts relative to projects principally
directed at the functional and aesthetic use of land. Nothing
contained in this section shall be construed to restrict or
otherwise affect the right of any person or corporation to
engage in the practice of landscape architecture
, but no
person shall hold himself or herself out as, or use the title
'''landscape architect" or other similar nomenclature as
provided by N.J.A.C. 13:27-8.20, unless he or she has been
certified by the Board as a landscape architect.

http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/laws/archregs.pdf


Again, I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the law does not prevent anyone from doing garden design, installing plants, or maintaining them - for themselves or for others, for free or for profit.

Having an official sounding title like "Certified Landscape Architect" will probably give those architects an edge with big projects (new schools, hotels, suburban developments), but this is probably largely due to their ability to use CAD to do nice plans, and the fact that corporate developers tend to believe that anyone who is a certified architect automatically has a deep knowledge and experience working with plants, design aesthetics, regulations, etc.  But even the big projects could hire someone without credentials as I understand it, if the person could sell themselves.

Bottom line as I see it is that the NJ law does not generally interfere with practicing Permaculture Design. If I am misinterpreting the law and anyone has better information, please correct me.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Much of the process of LA licensing is not about soils and plants which is a minor part of the training (part of why I ended up choosing a science credential over MLA).  Through training and apprenticeship they learn about stakeholder management, public communications, construction project management, codes, contracting, and their work is often hardscape focused.  It pays off when you want public or corporate contracts.  Someone wanting to do landscape design install with a permaculture focus would do well to look across the broad set of skills and strategies that professional designers use, and consider how that relates to their effectiveness as businesspeople (i.e. the art of capturing capital)

When it comes to economic systems, at some point you have to decide if you are going to play or not play.  If you want to play, let alone be a game-changer, you have to understand the details of the system (maximum effect with minimum effort), and understand the dynamics of socio-economic systems that have been with us for generations (what are the sources, flows and sinks).  If you want to drop out, all that is unecessary, but if you are into the bodhisattva thing, it is good to really study the money system with an open mind, or you will be a slave to it.

Maybe we need a 'permaculture in business' training program 

 
              
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For what it is worth, from Bouvier's Law Dictionary albeit 1856, says the following:
LICENSE, contracts. A right given by some competent authority to do an act,
 which without such authority would be illegal. The instrument or writing
 which secures this right, is also called a license. Vide Ayl. Parerg, 353;
 15 Vin. Ab. 92; Ang. Wat. Co. 61, 85.
      2. A license is express or implied. An express license is one which in
 direct terms authorizes the performance of a certain act; as a license to
 keep a tavern given by public authority.
      3. An implied license is one which though not expressly given, may be
 presumed from the acts of the party having a right to give it. The following
 are examples of such licenses: 1. When a man knocks at another's door, and
 it is opened, the act of opening the door licenses the former to enter the
 house for any lawful purpose. See Hob. 62. A servant is, in consequence of
 his employment, licensed to admit to the house, those who come on his
 master's business, but only such persons. Selw. N. P. 999; Cro. Eliz. 246.
 It may, however, be inferred from circumstances that the servant has
 authority to invite whom he pleases to the house, for lawful purposes. See 2
 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 427; Entry.
      4. A license is either a bare authority, without interest, or it is
 coupled with an interest. 1. A bare license must be executed by the party to
 whom it is given in person, and cannot be made over or assigned by him to
 another; and, being without consideration, may be revoked at pleasure, as
 long as it remains executory; 39 Hen. VI. M. 12, page 7; but when carried
 into effect, either partially or altogether, it can only be rescinded, if in
 its nature it will admit of revocation, by placing the other side in the
 same situation in which he stood before he entered on its execution. 8 East,
 R. 308; Palm. 71; S. C. Poph. 151; S. C. 2 Roll. Rep. 143, 152.
      5.-2. When the license is coupled with an interest the authority
 conferred is not properly a mere permission, but amounts to a grant, which
 cannot be revoked, and it may then be assigned to a third person. 5 Hen. V.,
 M. 1, page 1; 2 Mod. 317; 7 Bing. 693; 8 East, 309; 5 B. & C. 221; 7 D. & R.
 783; Crabb on R. P. Sec. 521 to 525; 14 S. & R 267; 4 S. & R. 241; 2 Eq.
 Cas. Ab. 522. When the license is coupled with an interest, the formalities
 essential to confer such interest should be observed. Say. R. 3; 6 East, R.
 602; 8 East, R. 310, note. See 14 S. & R. 267; 4 S. & R. 241; 2 Eq. Cas. Ab.
 522; 11 Ad. & El. 34, 39; S. C. 39 Eng, C. L. R. 19.


Not sure what has legally changed since then, but sure the 'title law' has a big part to play in many 'license' today. Realtor is another one.

Dealing in select u.s. currency coin may help, as it is taxed at face value. If you contract up front what you are to be paid, and paid in, you can increase your potential buying power and stave off worries of inflation/hyper inflation. It can also solve who pays for what, deadlines, and the like. Without it, I guess you could be entering the volatile market of the gift economy. Probably depends on what type of person you are dealing with. Easy way to tell is Galations 5:13-26 NIV KJV. Assume it would hold true in many religions and walks of life.

Main reason I can see for oversight of landscaping is to manage invasive plants, blights, wildlife habitat and manage runoff, wind and the likes thereof. Hard for me to imagine the average permaculture person being worse than the lawn and landscape people in my area. Understanding and operating within reasonable limits of the law is always a good idea. Can also save you a lot of time if you answer questions correctly should you ever be questioned (ie, a landscape architect makes a complaint against you. when authorities arrive, you know to call yourself a permaculture apprentice , not a landscape architect).
 
Emerson White
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Storm V Spooner wrote:If you barter or trade in any fashion, the IRS considers that income for both parties, and demands a cut, despite the lack of any monetary profit.


If you aren't profiting you are doing the whole trade thing wrong. Good trade means that both parties profit. The fact that it isn't measured in dollars when it's barter has nothing to do with it. Besides, if they didn't tax so called barter transactions that would incentivise the practice, which is more wasteful and costly than monetary trade.
Leucaena wrote:
As others have said, licenses are used  A.) as a barrier to entry to protect profits of existing firms and B.) as a way to know where to send the tax bill.

I'm sure Massachusetts is among the worst states in terms of regulatory burden.

/\This is exactly correct.


 
                                    
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mrchuck wrote:
I'm not against licenses in general. Its just that a landscaping license angers me a bit because I see the poor work that so many landscapers in my area are doing and I'm thinking, "YOU went for 4 years of college and had 4 years of practical experience, and this is the best you can do?" (that's the New Jersey requirement). Yea, that sounds snotty. But, can't they do any better??


the primary effect (some would say goal too) of occupational licensing is to enact barriers to entry which raises the wages of those with a license and lowers their competition.  what reason is there for certification of interior designers and barbers or hairdressers?  i think recommendations and portfolios for example are more effective means for the consumer to judge competency.

btw while also true of permaculture design license because it is not compulsory being certified actually says something about people who did the work.
 
                                    
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Jonathan Byron wrote:
I don't think that anyone can make the case that government action is inherently bad or inherently good.


you might not agree, but of course they can.  i would go with the former.  i won't be making the case here though!
 
Jotham Bessey
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In some places, A landscaping license must be kept updated. For this, a person must take a certain amount of training each year. That insures S/he is up to date on latest laws and "best practice"
 
Jotham Bessey
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christhamrin McCoy wrote:

the primary effect (some would say goal too) of occupational licensing is to enact barriers to entry which raises the wages of those with a license and lowers their competition.  what reason is there for certification of interior designers and barbers or hairdressers?  i think recommendations and portfolios for example are more effective means for the consumer to judge competency.

btw while also true of permaculture design license because it is not compulsory being certified actually says something about people who did the work.


There's certification for lightbulb changing and parts picking now!
 
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