BONUS: Season One Finale

Guest: Sabrina Merage Naim & Kassia Binkowski
Rules were bent. Glass was broken. Minds were expanded. Join Sabrina and Kassia in reflecting on the audacious, gutsy guests whose stories, advice, and badassery comprised season one. The co-hosts discuss the conversations that left a mark and opened their eyes to the vast array of experiences women are facing around the world. Sabrina reveals the episode that most challenged her, and Kassia shares how she has personally grown in unexpected ways.
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Sabrina Merage Naim & Kassia Binkowski Transcript

Kassia Binkowski
Hey, Hey, friends, I'm Kassia Binkowski with me is the lovely Sabrina Mirage nyeem. And you're listening to a bonus episode of breaking glass. As it turns out, feminism is too big and too wild in two totally unruly to ever be contained in a single show format. So we've decided to offer up some extra ordinary episodes, we're talking glimpses behind the scenes, teasers for future shows, previously unaired conversations and intimate eavesdropping between Sabrina and myself. Get ready to feast your ears find people take a listen.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Kassia we did it! This is the end of season one. I know it's arbitrary. But we are saying

Kassia Binkowski
This not arbitrary.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah.

Kassia Binkowski
I mean, we've claimed it. We're naming it. We made it.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Okay, it's exciting. And how many episodes have we done?

Kassia Binkowski
432. That's what it feels like. Like 42, I think.

Sabrina Merage Naim
I hope that those of you who have who have been with us since the beginning, who have followed us in this journey have have seen that we really have put our hearts and souls into this. It was really a truly a passion project, something that we care so deeply about beyond. Beyond the interesting conversations that we had with incredible women and men around the world, frankly, it was beyond that it was for us a movement, it was an opportunity to, to open the doors of these conversations and issues that maybe we're not hearing so much about. And it's life experiences of people far removed from our own. And that really provides empathy, and it provides a different lens for how we see the world. And what I wanted to do is reflect on the past season, talk about some of the lessons learned talk about some of the things that we've taken away from this. And hopefully you guys have learned some things too.

Kassia Binkowski
Yeah, it's been very humbling, very energizing. And I think you know, more than anything, it's been very invigorating, to hear the stories, to show up week after week to connect with these guests in very, very disparate corners of the world. You know, it's been a real honor to create the space for those voices in those stories and to be able to listen, I mean, it really has felt like a great listening experiment for us. And I think that's kind of the funny thing about podcasting is you pour so much time and heart and resource and energy. And also, it feels like such a selfish pursuit, because we get to sit here and listen and connect with these people who want to show up and share their stories. And that's, that's a huge honor. It is. And,

Sabrina Merage Naim
Frankly, we've busted our asses, because as we've mentioned, both of us have other jobs, both of us have young families, we've got a lot of other things going on, which just goes to show that the time the energy, the resource that we put into this was so purely out of love and from our hearts and from our souls and with a greater purpose. And even with all of the work that was put into it. It was truly a pleasure from beginning to end. And hopefully not end this is just the pause the pause button until season two. And and so let's kind of reflect. Okay, let's reflect on some of the things that we take away.

Kassia Binkowski
So I'm curious, any fan girl moments for you over the past season?

Sabrina Merage Naim
Oh, yeah. Pat Mitchell was for me.

Kassia Binkowski
Oh yeah, that was one of the ones we went into and we both were a little nervous to turn the tables on somebody who's interviewed so many really, really impressive individuals over the course of her career.

Sabrina Merage Naim
So true. And I remember it very clearly because we we kind of go into these conversations feeling pretty good. feeling confident, and we never really know how it's gonna go

Kassia Binkowski
At least we go in feeling prepared. We've done our research, you know, we feel pretty organized.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Well, we were we were organized with Pat Mitchell also, but we were nervous, very nervous. And frankly, I think that conversation ended up being a phenomenal one like that was just so great.

Kassia Binkowski
I mean, she's a rock star. She's a rock star. She's a true legend. And, you know, the lives that she's touched the people that have listened to her voice. I mean, it was an honor to get to share her story for sure. Yeah. What about topics that inspired you the most? Like, what did you walk away the most fired up by?

Sabrina Merage Naim
Well, what I wanted to do actually was to kind of go, so I did very little preparation for this episode. I'm coming now, months and months later to this conversation, just having remembered the things that kind of stuck in my brain and are there still. I jotted down some notes, because they were the the conversations or the lessons or the the notes that I kind of took away from different conversations that really stuck with me. And I want to share some of those. Starting with renowned elephant biologist, Dr. Winnie Kiiru, who was one of the earlier conversations that we had, and the thing that she said that like blew my mind when she was explaining that she was going through school and all of these research programs and she had a young kid and other women in her program were falling out like flies, and she was determined to stay in. But it was difficult for her, she said that we need to negotiate with those around us to fill the spaces in our lives.

Kassia Binkowski
Yes, she said....

Dr. Winnie Kiiru
"I call them my girls - those who come into my space and I try to mentor them - I always say, if you learn nothing else from me remember that everything is negotiable."

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah. And it was. So it was such a different kind of perspective on an issue that so many of us face when we are entering a world that, frankly, is not prepared for women, it's not prepared for the many things, we need to sacrifice in different life stages that we face. And, you know, thinking about going out into the bush for weeks on end. And we were considering forget parenthood and pregnancy and all of that, like, what about menstruation? What do you do when you don't have access to a bathroom for God knows how long and you're on your period? Right?

Kassia Binkowski
Right. And weren't even talking about like the little girls in those communities who grow up without access. We're talking about the women who have clawed their way into careers, and still don't have access.

Sabrina Merage Naim
That's mind boggling, right? And I just, I loved how she put it. I loved her perspective. It really stuck with me. And it's something that I've kind of tried to instill in my own life as much as possible.

Kassia Binkowski
Absolutely. And let's go back to menstruation for a second. I think that's one of the things that infuriated me the most over the course of this season is the number of ways that women's health limits us personally and professionally for things that we have no control over. You know, everything from access to menstrual products to pregnancy planning to maternity rights, like the number of times that showed up in conversations. And that's something that we can't control. And it limits us in so many ways. I get angry. I still like I look at the list of names that spoke about that and I just get angry

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, we obviously had that conversation about menstruation with Michaela Bedard who heads up Period.

Michela Bedard
"Let's look at who's voting these who was in the state legislatures across the board? Are they overwhelmingly not menstruators? Are they overwhelmingly people who have too much shame?"

Sabrina Merage Naim
We talked about that also with Darcy Gaechter who was the first woman to kayak the Amazon from source to sea. And what do you do in that case?

Kassia Binkowski
Yeah, and Erin Loos Cutraro who was like, we just need more menstruators in office. We need more people who have dealt with this, who think and plan their month or their day or their week with that perspective, to be making decisions because that's where empathy shows up.

Erin Loos Cutraro
"That is because there is an empathy piece there, there is a connection with people. There is a compassion, an ability to listen. Not every woman is going to be the same on this, but it is a true value that women bring to the table in leadership."

Sabrina Merage Naim
And what about Carli Lloyd? Carli Lloyd, who got released from her contract as a professional volleyball player after many years, because she got pregnant. God forbid.

Kassia Binkowski
Well, I'm right back to Winnie. Right? I mean, she said "This is a beautiful thing. It's going to happen. We are the only ones who can do that. Like this is not shameful. This shouldn't crush your career. This shouldn't be this great problem." And yet right now it is.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah. Another one that came to mind for me was Angella Nazarian. When she said she was talking about visualizing the things that you want for your life, the direction you want to go. And she said,

Angella Nazarian
"Once I take the first step, the road will appear. And I'll take the next step."

Sabrina Merage Naim
And that one really stuck with me because so many of us are paralyzed in fear to even move forward, because we have no idea what the end result will be, if there's going to be a support system there if there's going to be a path to go. And what she said, which I think is really, really true, is that you have to take that step, and then the road will appear. And then you take another step, and some more of the road will appear. And maybe it looks different than what you had anticipated, but at least you're going somewhere.

Kassia Binkowski
And that was no doubt true for so many of these women. I mean, I think I look at like Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, who moved back to Rwanda as the only female doctor in the entire country, and then went on to rebuild the whole health system. You look at like Greta Francesca Iori who's one of the very few women working in wildlife crime. I mean, there was no road for any of these individuals to follow. And they're kicking ass. They are such rock stars.

Sabrina Merage Naim
I actually had a note about Dr. Agnes because she she also she spoke about how, you know, having to rebuild the healthcare system in Rwanda after a civil war. And, you know, the mass murder and genocide of a million people in that country. And she said,

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho
"I think my first reaction was to run away."

Sabrina Merage Naim
But she stayed, she faced that fear, she persisted. And that also is a theme, I mean, part of it is, is taking that step, and the road will appear, and part of it is facing the fear. And how powerful that is. And that also leads to a number of conversations we had with women who, unfortunately, were in really traumatic situations. I think about Norma Bastidas, Aminata Conteh Biger - these are women who were raped and abused and kidnapped, and on and on and on. And I mean, they persisted, they could have put their heads down and died. And that's it. How do you come back from that? These women today are powerhouses, because they faced the trauma, the fear, everything that they went through, and came out the other side, much more resilient, much more powerful. And, and, you know, God bless Norma she expressed that it's still a struggle, right? Every day is still a struggle,

Norma Bastidas
"We need to tell them it does not matter your circumstances of how you are where you are, where you are is only your starting point. And to some of us a journey is incredibly long to get yourself to the other side, but keep trying. Because you're worth it."

Sabrina Merage Naim
And she shows up, she puts her running shoes on and she shows up, she goes for a run, she clears her head, she's still gonna struggle, there are still things that are so hard for her. And I think that's true for all of us. Particularly, of course, for these women who have experienced trauma like that.

Kassia Binkowski
I think there's just so much grace and grit in the stories of these women. And they balanced both of those things. And and I've got to be honest, I'm proud of us, Sabrina, for creating the space for stories of intense trauma, alongside stories of incredible impact, and swinging back and forth between those. Because I think that is what it means to be a woman in this world. I think if, you know, if there was one theme to come out of this it is that the we are at both ends of this spectrum - the most joyous and most impactful lives and also some of the most marginalized.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, you're so right. And I also have to, I have to say that I'm also proud that after all of those conversations with women who have experienced trauma like that, they were so nervous going into it, it is so deeply personal, it's so sensitive. And at the end, multiple of them have expressed to us that they really appreciated that we created a safe space for them. We weren't trying to dig in and get the sexy story. It's not about that. We really wanted them to feel safe to talk to us about as much as they were comfortable with. And that it was about learning from them. It was about creating a space for them and appreciating them and honoring them through all of that hardship. It was not about digging in and poking, you know, to try and get a different story and the fact that we heard that we create that safe space for these women who have been through so much I think was something that I felt very proud of.

Kassia Binkowski
What ways did the show stretch you, Sabrina?

Sabrina Merage Naim
Look, there were a lot of things that I felt like "Yes, amen. I'm with it!" And then there were times when I was like, "Hmm, do I agree with that? Am I okay with this?"

Kassia Binkowski
Like what?

Sabrina Merage Naim
Well, I would say the conversation around abortion, with Erin Jorgensen definitely stretched me. And as someone who considers myself hugely pro-choice, and we kind of talked about how there's such an array of experiences, there's such an array of reasons why women need access to abortion, and we cannot put walls around that it's so difficult, right? It still is a sensitive issue that has a lot of complexity wrapped up into it. And a lot of that is because of society. And a lot of that is, for family or ethical or value based issues that kind of pop up and, and disentangling my brain and my experiences from some of that was a really, I think, a healthy exercise.

Kassia Binkowski
Absolutely. I mean, I think Erin pushed us to realize or to acknowledge that you can't really be pro choice. There can't be a condition on that. You know, and if you can accept that, I remember her saying,

Erin Jorgensen
"I don't know why people decided to have an abortion, and because I don't see abortion as like, a punishment, then it's fine. You know, they could have an abortion for whatever reason they decide to."

Kassia Binkowski
That was her great realization of like, if I can be okay with abortion full stop, and it's not a bad, shameful choice for somebody to make, then it doesn't matter how many abortions they've had. It doesn't matter, the circumstances, or the gestational age. It's just okay. And that's a hard thing to sit with.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah. And I think it's different than the message that we've been fed for years and years and years. And I agree with you it's something to sit with. It's something to kind of swallow and say, "How do I how do I feel about this? How am I creating a space for other people's experiences that may be so vastly different from my own?" And, and, frankly, that also, what part of I think the beauty of this show was - seeing these shared experiences that we have with people all over the world, regardless of their geography, regardless of their socio economic upbringing, or position, or their race or their belief system, that there is a shared experience it experience that we all have. And yet on the flip side, also acknowledging our privilege through these conversations?

Kassia Binkowski
Well, I was just going to say, I think that's been one of the thing that stretches me the most is, is sitting in this place of privilege that you and I have - on many levels, you know, being white women, with wealth in America. That's an amazing position to be in. And when you bring on guests from all over the world, it puts it in really stark contrast. And we've heard I mean, we're out here you guys we're listening to you guys, we hear again and again, that you want more of our stories. And it's really challenging to figure out how to weave our stories and our voices and our experiences, alongside those of women who have had such vastly different life experiences than our own. I think about Ifrah Ahmed and her story about enduring female genital mutilation and now being one of the most foremost global activists to end that.

Ifrah Ahmed
"First thing I remember is the sound of the scissors when it actually goes click. And when I close my eyes, I just feel the pain."

Kassia Binkowski
And I went into that conversation being like I have no space to say anything about this issue, I've endured nothing like this. And yet, I think in every single conversation, regardless of the topic, it's been stripped down to this place of just human experience and emotional experience. And there is space for everybody's voices in that.

Sabrina Merage Naim
We're we're living in an interesting time where there's this toggle back and forth between sensitivity of who's allowed to tell certain stories, and who should not be telling certain stories, right? I think one of the things that I'm extremely sensitive to is that we need to constantly check our own privilege and our own experiences, while still creating a space for these women who have had such vastly different experiences, right? I am not telling the story of Ifrah Ahmed, as an expert. I am giving her a space to tell her story. And I'm learning from her. And I am internalizing it, and it lights a fire under me. And frankly, it also makes me think back to my roots. So for those who are interested in hearing the stories, I mean, I thought a lot about the episode with Nasreen Sheikh.

Nasreen Sheikh
"Most of the women and girls are forced to live in a society where they don't have any voice. And if they do try to speak up for themselves, most likely they will be abused and tortured, and also lose their life."

Sabrina Merage Naim
You know, she grew up in a very, very poor village that was not even on a map, right?The population was not even counted. There was no system, there was no infrastructure, and her path to going through slave labor and, and avoiding forced marriage and all of these things. It made me kind of think about my own family, and my grandfather, who was born to also a very poor family in Iran, and lived in the poorest part of the Jewish ghetto. And the stories of him needing to and I think I've mentioned this, him needing to, you know, pick up buttons off the street and try and sell it for pennies just to get food for his family. It is not so far removed from me. And yet I sit in this position of looking back, and knowing where I come from, knowing the struggles that my family have, have gone through the pain, the hardships that they have gone through. And so appreciating also, who I am and where I am today. And that is part of that the larger responsibility that I feel in terms of how I use this privilege, how I use this position for others.

Kassia Binkowski
Well, absolutely. And what comes to mind for me is not putting words in other people's mouths and not assuming that we know anything about their life experience. Which I actually just did for you. I just said we were white American women. And that's how I identify. I'm not sure it's how you identify.

Sabrina Merage Naim
No, it's not.

Kassia Binkowski
Right. And so I apologize for doing that. And I think that's it's a good reminder of all we can do is speak for ourselves, and then pass the mic to somebody else to tell their story to share their perspective, to show up and represent their life experience.

Sabrina Merage Naim
And it's a practice because the truth of it is, I think so many of us are kind of judgmental creatures. It's just part of our DNA. It is so much easier for us to see the world through this lens of my own experience, my own beliefs, and everything else is foreign and different and maybe even wrong, right. It's not how I do things. That's not how I see things. So that's probably wrong. Even for those of us who maybe don't do that outwardly or consciously. I feel like this has been such a lesson in reformatting my brain, right? You know, the the black and white of right and wrong, is not as black and white as we want to kind of think it is for a lot of things.

Kassia Binkowski
And we went into a lot of conversations like that thinking. I mean, the female genital mutilation one comes up again, the abortion one probably comes up again, several where we assumed that we knew which side of the line that we were on going into the conversation only to have a pretty big gut check by the end. There's so many more positions than than just black or white, just right or left. You know, one of the most fun moments for me on the show was was going up against your dad, you know, speaking with David Merage. We had a blast pressing him on his positions, and kind of figuring out where the limits of his progressive values might be.

David Merage
"So publicly, I announce that I am a feminist."

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, and I have to say that I heard from multiple people, Kassia, that was their favorite episode of yours because you were so clearly unleashed. It was so fun. You mentioned that that my dad seemed and reminded you a lot of your dad and a lot of ways so this was kind of also your way of going up against your dad.

Kassia Binkowski
I will bring him in for season two, we'll save him. But I want that one in real life. I wan that one with film and with video. Let's repeat that over a really really good bottle of wine. We just had so much fun challenging his positions.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, it's super different having a conversation with someone who you know, well and someone who you do not you've never met you've never spoken with. And in some ways, we, we want to kind of walk the line of being respectful and, and standing back and creating a safe space, like I said, and for my dad, I don't think either of us felt like we needed to.

Kassia Binkowski
And you know what, I would go back to every guest that we had from Kenya, who would show up and was totally unleashed and so energetic. And I don't think any one of them did that either. I actually think that that's the difference between a really fiery, passionate conversation. And I think that's a place where we have room to grow is to show up a little bit more, at least for all of the episodes, to let this be a safe, respectful place, but one where you're going to be pushed, pressed, and we are too. And we expect you to return that and to challenge us on our perspectives, because I think it makes for so much more interesting conversation.

Sabrina Merage Naim
100%.

Kassia Binkowski
There's a little too much sensitivity right now in the world.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, I think I think you're right. What would you say is the biggest transformation that you have gone through from the beginning to the end of the show?

Kassia Binkowski
I think for me, it's been a practice and exercise in owning my story, and actually finding places for it to show up in these episodes and finding parallels between my life experiences and the guests. I think I went into this endeavor assuming that we were doing just that - creating a space to pass the microphone over and share the story of these incredible, incredible individuals. And then what we heard from our audience was, "Wait, what about you? Who are you? We want to know more about you." And that was something I never expected to hear or to have to share. And so that's been a really humbling experience as a woman. What is my story? And what pieces of it are relevant to each of these conversations? And and how do I weave that in without distracting or undermining the depth of these conversations, because we're talking about hard issues and issues that you and I often don't have personal experience with. But I think it goes to show every woman has a story that needs to be shared, there's place for every woman's stories in these conversations. And that's that that's been hard and challenging and interesting. And this has stretched me.

Sabrina Merage Naim
And that channels, Meredith Fineman, for me, which I think was such a lesson for both of us about why women need to learn how to self promote better brag better or like find where they exist in different stories and the opportunities. And you and I have admitted that that is a big challenge for both of us in our work in this show. In a lot of areas, you know.

Meredith Fineman
"Bragging is stating facts. That is it and you just state them to the right people so that they can advance your career. And so you can get what you want."

Sabrina Merage Naim
We're terrible at it.

Kassia Binkowski
We're absolutely terrible at it. I mean, the next time you're in town, like photoshoot to the nines, like we are, we are pulling back the curtains, we need to get in front of the camera and we need to get in front of the mic more often. And that's, that's a hard thing to get used to. And yet it's a skill that we all need to build.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah. And I think the interesting challenge with that is that neither of us have any ambitions to be so in the public or in the limelight. And that's not why we started this show, right? But the recognition is that our story is part of the story. Right? It is, it should be kind of woven in, sensitively and consciously into the story, the stories of our guests.

Kassia Binkowski
And every woman's story as part of this story.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yes.

Kassia Binkowski
Yeah, that was the goal was for every woman to be able to relate to or resonate with the stories that we're sharing. And, and for some reason, we thought we could do that in like a little bit of a silo and be safe from that, like that bubble was happening over there. Turns out we're in the middle of the fucking bubble. We have to show up for that.

Sabrina Merage Naim
What about some of our male guests and our gender non-binary guests and trans guests?

Kassia Binkowski
Yes, I was gonna add to the list of things that I'm proud of is creating a space and a feminist show and a show about women with men's voices. I mean, that was something you pushed really strongly for and props to you for seeing that upfront and knowing that we needed to go there because I think that that really is a different lens that they bring to the table. It's a role that they absolutely need to play. They're part of these conversations. And they each had a perspective that, of course, we couldn't have our own as our own. So it was really interesting.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, I loved the conversation we had with Jackson Katz.

Jackson Katz
"The use of passive language in descriptions of gender violence, has a very powerful political effect. And the political effect is it shifts the focus off of men and puts it onto women."

Sabrina Merage Naim
How he explained that the language we use around, for example, gender based violence matters. It matters to say, John beat Jane, versus Jane as a battered woman. It matters the context in which we use that language. It matters how men play a part in these conversations, and in the fight for justice. It matters that someone like Jeffrey Tobias Halter is at the table trying to create more space for women in the workforce. It matters that Robert Egnell is talking to militaries around the world about why their programs are gender biased.

Robert Egnell
"So when we conduct operations, how do we do that with gender awareness?"

Kassia Binkowski
So here's what's particularly interesting because he was able to reflect on this moment of total failure. I think it was the Swedish military, but I could be butchering that, that started to launch a program that was gender blind, right?

Sabrina Merage Naim
It was Sweden, you're right.

Kassia Binkowski
Thinking that that was the right thing to do. That was that was the best of the best. That was the most forward thinking and inclusive thing they could do was be gender blind. And it was a total flop. It was actually way more important to be gender aware. And that subtle shift blew my mind. Right.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Let's talk about this is. For me, one of the most fundamental issues that I have that I face with critics of feminism is that men and women are not exactly the same. Men have different body types and different physical abilities. And women have different biology and different physical abilities. Men and women are not exactly the same. Alright, folks, please listen. No, men and women are different. And that's okay. It is not about being gender blind. It is about being gender aware, and equality. Equality does not mean that we are all exactly the same. By the way, not all women are the same. And not all women have the same physical and biological abilities or desires. And not all men have the same physical abilities. Like let's just kind of acknowledge that there is a whole array of individuals who have different abilities and desires and ambitions and all of these things. I am the kind of feminist that still wants my husband to like, fucking keep a door open for me and pull out my chair.

Kassia Binkowski
Pull out the chair, Shawn. Pull out the chair.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Yeah, right? Well, that does not mean that I'm not a feminist. People who think that chivalry means that you're not a feminist. It drives me up the wall. It's the most ludicrous argument. So Robert now actually brought up I think, a really important point that is not just specific to the military, but it is specific to all of us in every industry and across all geographies and genders and everything. We are not all the same. That's fine. We don't all want to be the same. We want equality, we want opportunity, we want to be looked at, you know, without these prejudices. And now I am straight off my pedestal.

Kassia Binkowski
Hell yeah. Yeah, we do. And I'm excited. I think this is this first season has been such a fun exercise and creating the space for those voices to show up and creating the story, you know, giving space for those stories of equality and opportunity. And women showing up in industries that you know, are so radically different than where you and I work and live in a day to day basis. And that's, that's been a blast, and also an awesome learning curve for what we're about to create together.

Sabrina Merage Naim
Amen. I want all of us to kind of see that this is a community, that this is a space for new voices for people of all backgrounds from all over the world. We really wanted it to be global in scope. I think that we've kind of checked that box. We still of course, have many more places that we need to explore many different topics to explore. And we are exploring that for season two, how we're going to create space for those stories, how we're going to continue this project. I'm really excited. I'm also honored to be doing this alongside you, my friend.

Kassia Binkowski
Yeah, right back at you!

Sabrina Merage Naim
And hope that you'll stick with us. Stay tuned.

Kassia Binkowski
Thanks for tuning in!

Sabrina Merage Naim
Breaking Glass is a production of Evoke Media. Evoke is a nonprofit organization that exists in order to elevate the people and stories that are working to make the world a more unified and equitable place. Learn more at weareevokemedia.com

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