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Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Facebook’s Mistakes

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Mark Zuckerburg’s Congressional hearings, the power of Facebook as an advertising vehicle, the affect Facebook had on national elections…there is so much to digest when it comes to the news about Facebook. It’s only a matter of time before business schools write “mandatory reading” case studies, and Aaron Sorkin produces the sequel to The Social Network.

The Workville team is paying close attention to it all. We decided to break down Facebook’s rise and mistakes from our own angle. What are the key lessons entrepreneurs should learn from Facebook’s mistakes? 

Aaron Sorkin The Social Network movie poster image about Facebook

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission statement was to make the world more open and connected. Facebook now has more than 2 billion active users internationally. Mark Zuckerburg pioneered the social media industry and with it, the advent of targeted advertising algorithms. Facebook has since skyrocketed from a social network to internet dominance. Meanwhile, Facebook made the same mistakes repeatedly but never implemented a system of checks and balances. Repeated mistakes become monumental errors, which they are now facing in court. Here is a timeline of their biggest mistakes, and how it all adds up:

2004: Facebook establishes the mission statement “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

The Problem: As summarized by Tech Crunch, this mission statement  “had one fundamental flaw: it didn’t push for any specific positive outcome from more connection. Technically, it could encompass digital voyeurism via the News Feed, trading in-person friendship for online acquaintanceship or the filter bubbles and echospheres that have further polarized the United States.”

2007: Facebook introduced the tracking program Beacon, an innovative way to use their technology across websites. This enabled fifty Million Facebook users’ activities to be tracked on other websites (Travelocity, Fandango, The Knot, Overstock.com, and so on). Users purchasing behavior was then posted on their Facebook newsfeed.

The Problem: Beacon tracked behavior without clearly asking for user approval This violated Facebook’s terms and conditions, and basic consumer privacy. So much for that surprise vacation booked on Travelocity or that surprise birthday gift purchased from Overstock.com…

Facebook apologized for the release and recalled Beacon.

2008: OpenID is introduced, enabling users to sign into other sites with Facebook credentials. OpenID is so user-friendly that it became hugely popular, helping skyrocket Facebook’s internet dominance.

With the success of OpenID, Facebook decided to also make the “like” button available on other sites. The “like” button is twofold, it’s fun and it tracks individual browsing history across these sites. Even for non-Facebook users.

Next, a year after OpenID’s successfully launch, Facebook added another update in which users profiles were public by default, and could be searched by anyone.

The Problem: Behavior tracking and making private profiles public violates privacy. In 2012 Facebook settled with the FTC, implementing a privacy policy which a) asks users permission before broadly sharing their information and b)enforces third-party privacy audits for a duration of 20-years. The regular audits were put into effect to prevent Facebook’s habit of “share first, ask later”.

2013: 6 million Facebook users had their contact information, including phone numbers and emails, inadvertently exposed. Even non-Facebook users had their contact information exposed if it had been listed in their friends’ contact information.

Facebook issued an explanation; they experienced a bug that led to the data breach. Here is a snippet of their response: “It’s likely that anyone who saw this is not a stranger to you.”

The Problem: Users did not know that Facebook inadvertently stored contact information they shared with other websites. More importantly though, once the mistake happened, the response was remarkably pragmatic and unapologetic.

To take a page from Elon Musk’s recent tweet about Tesla errors. “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.” Or in the case of Facebook, excessive innovation without consideration is a mistake. Empathy is underrated.

2016: Facebook miscalculated performance metrics of the videos published on their platform, inflating the average amount of time videos were viewed.

Facebook Advertising dollar graph

https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/25/facebook-q1-2018-earnings/

The Problem: In 2015, Facebook announced that they made-up 19% of the $70 billion mobile advertising spend worldwide. This means 19% of the market reviewed inflated metrics, resulting in skewed analytics, decision-making, and ad-spends.

2017: Facebook discovered tens of thousands of fake accounts created on their platform. Facebook introduced a news feed for publishers, but through this feed viral fake news spread faster than real news. Facebook sold users data, without consent, to the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, which was then used to create targeted political ads.

Whoa. 2017 is one big problem year.

Problem #1: Fake People. Facebook deletes tens of thousands fake accounts that were inflating the number of “likes” on news outlets. This was determined during the run-up national elections in France and Germany.

Similarly, in the US, Facebook nixes millions of fake “likes” and followers that targeted news outlets. USA Today alone lost nearly six million overnight. The FBI is now involved in identifying the source of fake accounts, and the spam purpose behind these accounts.

Problem #2: Fake News. Facebook rolls out a new feature; publishing news stories. The sources though are not vetted – fake election news stories outperformed real ones. Many of the viral fake election stories were run out of Russia.

Facebook revealed that during the U.S. presidential campaign, it unwittingly sold about $100,000 of ads to fake accounts linked to Russia. The ads were estimated to have reached as many as 126 million people. In response, Facebook rolled out a tool to allow users to check who’s behind the ads.

Facebook fake news line graph

Problem #3: Cambridge Analytica acquired data on 50 million Facebook members. The data was subsequently used to develop “psychographic” profiles, and create targeted political campaigns, which were used in the U.S. presidential campaign.

In the acquisition of detailed data by Cambridge Analytica, privacy policies are once again violated.  Facebook did not properly vet the data deal and the integrity of their new partner company.

In sum, the leadership and technology mistakes made by a young company were never corrected, and so, the molehill grew into the mountain. Now, Facebook is on trial for what can be summed as astronomical negligence at the cost of users privacy, advertisers dollars, and national elections.

Taking the entrepreneurial perspective – course correcting internal processes while simultaneously scaling new technology from startup to unicorn, well, that is a hefty challenge. Therefore, the biggest takeaway for entrepreneurs is simple: do not wait until unicorn status; learn and improve as you go so that challenges and changes are surmountable. Build your company with the most important foundation of all, integrity.

For Facebook, this means the lessons they should have learned are to invite users to have a say in major upgrades/platform changes, create internal checks and balances, vet partner companies, and act with integrity. 

Here’s the Workville commitment to our coworking members:

  1. Major updates and upgrades are member-approved. We run big decisions by our members first.

In the example of Facebook, surely someone would have said “bad idea” if they had run Beacon tracking by anyone outside of their internal team.

  1. Integrity is more important than the rush to market.

Facebook was a young company when they introduced Beacon technology. Rather than learning from the mistake though, they did it again. Introducing the “like” button across sites was a similar violation of member privacy. This rush to market, aka do first and ask later,  exploits implicit trust between customers and company.

3. Act with empathy. This is a big one for Workville.

We add improvements to the member experience by first asking what they want, and then backing into the “how can we make this happen”.

Data guides decisions, but we also take the time to listen. Too much data creates a disconnect between what the member is actually feeling and why. Data can also be skewed by unreliable sources (or in the extreme version of Facebook – skewed, unqualified, and even fake sources.)

With the launch of OpenId Facebook had the capability to make private profiles public, but that doesn’t mean anyone liked it or wanted it.

Mistakes happen, but what happens next is character defining. For us, it’s important to acknowledge, apologize, and course correct.

In Facebook’s case in which 60 million phone numbers being inadvertently revealed, a proper apology is due. Saks Fifth Avenue exemplifies how to act on a proper apology when a mistake does happen.

4. Commitment to the member experience.

This means we vet every partner company to ensure they align with the Workville mission.

Every decision remains steadfastly centered around our goal of creating a happy, productive, workspace for New York City’s thought leaders.

Email info@workvillenyc.com to learn more about Workville’s commitment to their members.

Workville NYC Coworking Space entpreneurs

Fortune 500 companies embrace Coworking

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Coworking has achieved a new level of disruption to the commercial real estate industry.

According to a Q3 Occupier Survey published by brokerage firm CBRE, 44% of corporations use a form of flexible office space solutions. Brokerage firm JLL projects that by 2020, 30% of all office space will feature flexible terms and open layout design. Flexible work schedules and financial incentives are spurring this change, as well as productivity advantages of working in a collaborative, innovative environment.

This is a huge evolution from when the industry began in 2008. Ten years ago coworking spaces were little-known, fledgling operations. The perception was that it was a millenial-driven trend of affordable office space for freelancers and small start-ups.

Now companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Barclays are backing incubators and leasing offices in coworking spaces. There is a clear benefit to funding incubators – it provides direct access to ideation, innovation, and talent. Coworking space offers similar benefits. Teams accustomed to internal office politics can now be immersed in the creative energy of dynamic coworking spaces, which leads to innovation and networking with leading disruptors.

The shared cost-benefit of coworking is also a driving force in its exponential growth. Shared workspace makes sense for any company entering a new market. From Fortune 500’s to startups, expansion strategies usually start with small, agile teams. Agile growth plans require flexible office space and low overhead. Brokreage firm, Colliers, sites flexible shared office space as a 25% savings on rent alone. There is, of course, the additional savings from the shared amenities.

Coworking space design is also leading innovation, with floorplans that emphasize human-centric design to generate collaboration. Or more simply, sometimes employees just want to move around during the day to keep their energy fresh and productivity levels high.

The question is – how well do corporate personalities and entrepreneurs mix together in one workspace?

Workville’s midtown coworking space bridges the gap between leading startups and corporations. Experienced entrepreneurs and founders choose the Workville shared space.

Having previously held executive-level corporate positions, or previously launched a startup that was acquired by a corporation, Workville’s members are well connected. They embrace coworking for the entrepreneurial spirit it fosters. Ideation and innovation are driven by an inherent love for problem-solving. Entrepreneurs see industry gaps and enjoy pushing the limits in order to pioneer solutions. In addition, experienced entrepreneurs understand the value of knowledge, resources, and mass market appeal that corporations offer.

Workville’s welcoming workspace fosters the synergy between growth stage startups, Fortune 500 companies, and the Venture Capitalists funding startups. Workville achieves this by maintaining the very essence of NYC’s tech scene – a shared, friendly experience with an incredibly smart, tight-knit community in which everyone’s value is appreciated.

workville nyc coworking space lounge area

Email info@workvillenyc.com to learn more about Workville’s ecosystem of industry leaders.

How Millennials Created CoWorking

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Workville coworking spaceCoworking spaces have become a big thing for ALL ages, and the first choice for many millennials.

In 2007, the United States had only 14 registered coworking spaces. The number has since skyrocketed, with over hundreds of thousands of coworking spaces opening across the globe, which equates to over 1.7 million choosing shared office spaces. With the numbers steadily increasing at a 41% compounded annual growth rate, all eyes are now on coworking. So, how did millennials kick-start this coworking trend?

  1. Choosing small enterprise or startups versus corporate – Unsure of the job market and unsatisfied with traditional job descriptions, many millennials choose startups or freelancing. Coworking spaces support their flexible lifestyle – offering cost-effective, flexible membership terms. Traditional commercial real estate leases are a daunting, long-term three – five-year commitment. Startups can scale and downsize at the drop of a hat, so the idea of a long-term commitment does not match the needs of their business model.
  2. Millenials embrace the shared economy – Shared offices are like the best of a Netflix and Uber experience: select a service plan based on your actual needs, share the cost of service with like-minded peers, in a user-friendly, comfortable environment.
  3. Networking and mentoring – Startups and small enterprises tend to be very lean, so the shared workspace is an opportunity for cross-communication and outsourcing.  Millenials also have the opportunity to interact with more seasoned professionals but without the intimidating office politics. This creates great mentor opportunities, and for seasoned professionals, a chance to connect and learn from a generation of innovative thinkers.
  4. Productivity over office politics – Coworking members enjoy a collegiate feeling in their workspace. Working around motivated, energetic people is infectious. Creativity and drive is the norm for the coworking atmosphere, which may explain why so many successful disruptors choose coworking.

coworking space trendsVisit Workvillenyc.com midtown Manhattan coworking space to experience the new way of working. Our space supports the needs of growth-stage startups and thought-leaders.

 

 

 

New Year, New Press. Workville is Featured in TravelMag Best CoWorking Spaces!

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Nothing like starting the New Year with a feature in our favorite, TravelMag! Read below to see what they have to say about Workville’s coworking space. 

The nature of work is evolving, and one of the biggest changes is the number of self-employed and remote workers around the world. Of course, the stereotype of flat-white drinking, MacBook Air wielding hipsters huddled in cafes and coffee shop will be hard to shift, but one way in which freelancers are gaining a more ‘professional’ reputation is through the proliferation of co-working spaces, which can now be found in most major cities. At these venues, so-called communal desks and private offices are available for hourly, daily, monthly or annual rent, either for individuals or small companies, who then have access to all of the location’s amenities, as well as the chance to meet like-minded workers too.

Rated the number one Best Coworking Space in New York by Yelp, Workville has built a reputation for fostering the city’s most talented growth-stage startups. It is also one of the most luxurious co-working locations in the city, featuring spacious offices and open desks, along with sumptuous private terraces where you can kick back and relax, or even take your laptop if you prefer. With over 300 members, including a number of thought leaders and industry disrupters, this is certainly a space where people are focussed on success. The atmosphere is a harmonious mix of professional and friendly, largely due to the management team’s style which focuses on being hands-on and personable. To accommodate growing member demand, Workville recently launched a brand new floor exclusively for large-team offices with between 8 and 25 staff.

LOCATION 1412 Broadway. Members have 24/7 Access. Front Desk hours are Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Closed Sat-Sun WEBSITE www.workvillenyc.com

Workville

Desks at the Workville co-working space (Photo: Leonardo Mascaro)

Thanksgiving Travel Tips From the Traffic Experts

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Charlie Brown Thanksgiving picture is the same sentiment as our midtown Manhattan coworking space.

Turkey for me, Turkey for you, it’s Turkey Time! It’s also time to plan ahead for the Thanksgiving commute; we’ll be departing from our Midtown Manhattan coworking space. Wherever you may be departing from, we compiled a list of traffic tips that will help you plan ahead. Tips are courtesy of data experts at Google and that handy Waze app they acquired back in 2013.

The Thanksgiving Drive…take the week off

The best travel time is Sunday at 6am, after which traffic congestion gets progressively worse.

The worst times for driving are Tuesday and Wednesday late afternoon, with traffic peaking Wednesday around 3pm. Surprisingly, traffic lightens on Wednesday after 6pm – so take the night owl route.

In New York City, traffic is the worst on the actual day of Thanksgiving, between 2 – 3pm. For anyone attending or avoiding the Macy’s Day Parade, here’s what to expect.

Best time for the return trip is Sunday; the worst time for the return trip is Saturday around 4pm.

So, based on these traffic patterns, the best option is to take off for the whole week! 😉

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving picture is the same sentiment as our midtown Manhattan coworking space.

 

 

The Thanksgiving Flight…

No surprise here, the worst time to fly is Wednesday morning and the worst day for return flights is Sunday. Data shows that Sunday’s flights are frequently plagued by delays and cancellations.

Thanksgiving Day and Monday morning are the recommended flight days – and these days also have the cheapest airfare.

 

Trains, Planes, Automobiles…

Back in May, Waze and the Port Authority announced a data sharing partnership. This means that real-time airport, bus terminal, bridge, and tunnel delays are reported on both the Waze app and the Port Authority app. Smartphones just got smarter.

For the 01%…

Private planes and helicopters are always an option too. Traffic problem solved.

If you want more tips, come visit us at our midtown Manhattan coworking space in 1412 Broadway or email us at info@workvillenyc.com! Now that travel plans are all set, we’re ready for the holiday spirit and that delicious Thanksgiving meal.

thanksgiving dinner meal that we're using our free time in our midtown Manhattan coworking space to plan for.

Streaming Netflix while you Work.

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Walk the halls of our coworking space and you’ll see some multi-taskers working on one computer, and streaming a TV show on another computer. We’re not judging, we’re impressed. It is incredible how technology changes TV watching patterns. Netflix is both the pioneer and industry leader for these changes. As of today, your Netflix subscription will also cost you a whole $1 more.

coworking space member works on one computer and watches Netflix on another computerNetflix produces hundreds of original series (House of Cards!!), and dozens of original movies, documentaries and comedy specials, which has largely attributed to their huge market share. They also smartly set expectations for the customer viewing experience, because streaming media and on-demand videos are not consistent experiences across all devices. So, as a customer, if you have that $7.99 service plan you can stream small definition on one screen at a time. $9.99 service plans enable users to stream in high definition on two devices at once. And for $11.99, users get 4K streaming and 4 devices.

Now we’re breaking the news – $7.99 plans will remain the same, $9.99 plans are jumping all the way up to $10.99 (insert wink), and $11.99 plans are increasing 16% to $13.99. Here’s where you should pay attention…the $13.99 plan is for 4K ultra HD TV and an internet connection fast enough for 4K.  It’s safe to say that Netflix is planning for the future, and they are assuming 4K will be more mainstream and in big demand sooner than we think.

Workville coworking members enjoy watching netflix and attending Netflix events like this one.

Here at Workville, our members in the coworking space are early adaptors and disruptors – we’ll let you know when 4K devices become the norm at Workville.

Feel free to contact info@workvillenyc.com if you’d like to take your own tour of our workspace.

 

wall of drones. in our NYC coworking space we know how important technology like drones are for recovery efforts.

Drones do Damage Control

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New York City is no stranger to hurricane disasters. Five years on, much of the City, its residents, and its businesses are still recovering from the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, experts rely on new technology to help rebuild: drones. Here’s how drones expedite recovery efforts, and a list of technology companies affiliated with Workville NYC’s co-working space that can also help.

drone flying in stormy gray sky as example of technology that can make a difference. Workville's NYC coworking space also has technology companies making a difference.

The FAA restricts airspace during natural disasters; drones are an exception to that rule. The FAA authorized 43 organizations in Houston to operate drones, including the following: oil and gas companies, insurance companies, media organizations, railroad, and first responders.

Drones capture a live feed so hazardous damage like collapsed infrastructure or oil and gas leaks can be analyzed from a safe distance, and experts can coordinate a response before ever entering an area. Also, for the first time ever, insurance companies are depending on live drone feeds to properly assess and handle insurance claims.

Last year, the FAA rolled out regulations for drones: drones can’t weigh more than 55 pounds, must stay 400 feet in the air, and cannot fly over densely populated areas. So this is the first time the rules and regulations have really been put to the test. Test passed. Drones are proving instrumental in speeding up recovery efforts.

Gold Sachs bar graph of drone sales projections over 8 years. Technology in NYC coworking spaces is on the rise.

 

Here at Workville, we are awed by the importance of technology in recovery efforts. Below are the companies affiliated with our NYC coworking space that are also  helpful resources:

  1. Telport Ninja – Document your home by filming a virtual tour before the storm hits, in case you need to submit an insurance claim after the storm. (Here’s an example of a virtual tour in our NYC coworking space. It’s a very detailed video experience.)
  2. Rapid SOS – Transformative technology, including wearables, can connect you to first responders and provide helpful direct data links from IoT and connected devices.
  3. Nuzzle – This is a waterproof GPS collar for your pet; the pet’s location is tracked through an app on your phone. Veterinary history can also be synced with the app, which is important for pets that are temporarily in shelters and foster care.
  4. Last but not least, while this is not affiliated with our midtown Manhattan office, we think it’s very important to know. Click here for the official FTC Hurricane guide.  

To learn more about the innovative work happening at Workville, contact us directly or click here for a tour

Travel to Bali

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Seems like Bali is the place to be these days. In our coworking space everyone’s Instagram reads like an ad for Bali’s exotic landscape and beaches.

Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s most important landmarks, famed for its offshore setting and sunset backdrops. It has an ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop of trees. This is one of the images frequently seen on Instagram feeds in our coworking space. Read more at: http://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/tanah-lot.htm?cid=ch:OTH:001

Here’s the tough question though, is the destination worth the travel time? Departing from our midtown Manhattan coworking office, total travel time is around 30 hours! Flights aren’t direct, the best option is a layover in Hong Kong.

An article published earlier this year in Forbes convinced us that YES, those 30 hours are worth the time. Described as experiential and luxurious, 2017 was the first year Forbes Travel Star Awards listed Bali. Tourists describe the experience as “authentic luxury”.

Turquoise map showing where Bali is and the popular travel spots in Indonesia. We are showing the image of the map to help plan our trip from our coworking space.

Hospitality is inherent to the Balinese culture: “[an] ability to read guests, think ahead and anticipate their needs.” Service is gracious, thoughtful, and personalized. Rather than “…just watch[ing] a ceremony, you are welcome to join in…Don’t be surprised if your waiter invites you home to enjoy a family meal or if a driver takes you to his temple ceremony. Openness and sharing is a key part of their culture.”

So, while we love our coworking space in NYC, we are now completely sold on this Bali trend as well. We love the idea of Bali’s open, sharing, hospitality driven culture. Since our team takes pride in creating a professional, friendly, and inspiring environment, we’re thinking the trip can classify as market research. 😉 Now, we just have to look into that airfare…

To learn more about how Workville offers a unique, personal experience in our NYC coworking space contact info@workvillenyc.com and sign-up for a tour!

 

Workville’s President Wins 33 Under 33 Award

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Earlier this month, Worville’s President won a StrtUpBoost 33 Under 33 Award. Congrats, Sue!

The 33 Under 33 Awards serve as an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of some of the best, most innovative individuals currently doing business in the New York City startup space.

Nominations came from members of the startup community, who then voted in 11 different categories: B2B Tech, B2C Tech, Venture Capitalist, Developer/Dev Shop, Fortune 500 & Professionals Integrated with Startup Ecosystem, Social Media, Marketing, Community Organization and Events, and Legal & Accounting.

Workville’s President Sue won in the Community Development category for fearlessly transitioning from a career in fashion to running one of NYC’s greatest coworking spaces and working as an integral force in NYC’s startup community. Sue is committed to helping startups grow their business, network effectively, and develop products to make the world a better place.

Without Sue, Workville would not be the successful ecosystem it is today. At its core, Workville is the warm, hospitable NYC office space that it is because of Sue. We’re so proud of her and the hard work she’s done to grow and develop the coworking community of New York City. Congrats, Sue!

If you’re curious to see how Workville is different than other NYC coworking and office spaces, please schedule a tour and find out!

NY Begins Preparation for 2024 Total Eclipse

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As reported in The Daily News, “this week’s solar eclipse was just a warm up act for the big show seven years from now — and tourism officials are already getting ready.”

That’s right, a total solar eclipse will once again grace North America in 2024, and this time it will pass directly over New York state.

The totality zone of total darkness will cover a wide stretch of New York, from Buffalo through much of the Finger Lakes and Adirondacks. New York City will see 90% of the sun blocked out, compared with 72% of the recent solar eclipse, which brought most of Midtown to a standstill on Monday afternoon.

With just a two-hour drive from NYC to the totality zone on April 8th, 2024, tourism officials are already planning campaigns to intice visitors and logistics to support what may be a massive influx of visitors.

“We can definitely be one of the epicenters of the country,” said Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, which promotes tourism in Western New York. “We are going to do our best to roll out the red carpet to welcome everybody who wants to come.”

Here at Workville NYC Coworking and Office Space, we’re excited to once again watch a solar eclipse from our private terrace on the 28th floor. Certainly, our members were excited to watch the eclipse on Monday.

What other NYC coworking space can offer such prime eclipse views! Workivlle’s midtown office space provides more than just workspace. Workville provides a space to call your own. And just 5-minutes from Penn Station, Times Square, and Bryant Park, our members are in the center of it all. Including the eclipse of 2024. See you then!

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