Blancards – Sustainable Living – Human Development

Welcome. Our vision is one of a truly sustainable world, both at a human level and at an environmental level. Through diversity of renewable technologies, low carbon footprint living and human development we have a positive outlook for society and mankind’s future. For many years we have offered our Residential Internship Program which combines artistic, therapeutic and holistic workshops and seminars for personal development in our wonderful old farmhouse in southern Ardèche, France and our newest center in Adelaide Australia. Our courses include diverse subjects ranging from Meditation, BioSynergy, relaxation therapy, Gestalt therapy, sustainable living, solar power implementation, bio farming, wind power generation to ‘inner growth’ workshops like improvising on cello and piano, pottery, sculpture, storytelling, voice, inner journey.

We are particularly thrilled with our new sustainable living center in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. The land we have chosen for our self sustainability centre and  community was very carefully chosen and the final decision was based on water close to the surface, elevated land at a reasonably good price, organically enhanced and fertile soil, solar power and wind power or possibly both potential and in a location that is in sympathy for our human development programs.

We run monthly workshops from this stunning solar powered, eco-friendly facility and weekly meditation, sculpture, bio-diversity and solar panel and wind energy implementation classes weekly. Our world renowned international centre in southern Ardèche, France has offered residential courses for over 12 years and continues to flourish. We have a lovely symmetry between our French and Australian centres and many of our clients have visited both centres!

Blancards Sustainable Living Center - Adelaide Australia

As of April 2012 our Blancards Consciousness Center in South French Ardèche, now provides 24 residential courses and workshops per year aiming at personal growth and sustainable living. Our course welcomes individuals and groups with up to 16 participants. Our Adelaide Hills, South Australian Center currently offers 44 courses and this number is likely to grow through 2013. We are thrilled at the ongoing support from our wonderful clients and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Blancards sustainable living centre - France
Blancards Sustainable Living - France

Our Adelaide ”Green Living Workshop” proposed for June 2012 has 40 people signed up already – thank you for this wonderful support- the course outline is around creating an energy efficient home design for truly sustainable living.All aspects of sustainability are covered from bio farming to technical issues including solar space heating panels, a “geo-thermal” heat pump discussion and tank-less water heating systems. Above all, we focus on affordable renewable energy systems, solar and wind and how to create an energy efficient home and how to choose the right appliances. Since the renewable energy workshops are always popular we suggest contact us as soon as possible if you are interested in volunteering or participating in this amazing time!
We explore features of energy efficient appliances and everything related to sustainable living and renewable energy for your home.

We will be posting details of our Ardèche and Adelaide upcoming workshops and courses over the next few weeks and months. All courses are by donation only and we maintain a strong ‘not for profit’ ethic, whilst understanding costs need to be covered to enable us to complete our work. We have been touched by the very kind support of our participants over the last 12 years from our humble beginnings in our rambling French farm house.

How We Found Our Wonderful Blancards Adelaide Hill Centre.

We purchased our Adelaide property from a lovely man, John Foster. John had been looking for a retreat or farm in Adelaide for many years and unfortunately certain areas of South Australia were under the threat from hydraulic fracturing which threatened the water table and integrity and quality of water in many areas John looked. He had hoped
to build an approximately 15 acre retreat and orchard as his partner Anne was a certified apple grower . John had a lot of green skills  such as solar panel system design, grey-water systems, natural spring protection, composting and permaculture. He was also a great builder and had extensive timber framing experience. John, looking to retire, contacted us when he heard of our search for a new location for our Australian centre. It was a match made in heaven! John is a regular contributor to our workshops and is still closely connected to the land on which our centre is built.

Sustainable Living is Happy Living!

We are constantly noticing that visitors to our centres are amazed at what we
have done with such little financial investment to create a paradise of a community with organic, nurturing food and eco friendly shelter and awe inspiring natural beauty. Without exception they are immediately inspired and always want to get hands dirty to have the same kind of lifestyle that we have enjoyed for so many years. They will never be heard
grumbling or complaining about how society controls their life when they feel active love for the land and often want to stay on indefinitely! The lifestyle and teachings offered at Blancards they say, often saved their health and they commit to a sustainable lifestyle and natural living and focus less on accumulating money and material wealth and many say they wish that they would have learned about natural living earlier on in life. Very inspiring!


Sustainable Living - Renewable Energy - Permaculture
Blancards - Sustainable Living


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Lucas Steiner – Canberra Solar Power Specialist

We are very pleased to announce that Lucas Steiner from Canberra Green Energy will be presenting an in depth look at the latest developments in solar panels installation as a means to be energy independent. Lucas will outline the  developments of solar energy and how the Australian Capital now produces an astounding 90 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources.

About Lucas – Lucas Steiner has been involved in solar system installation in the A.C.T. for over 10 years and has expertise in all areas of solar power including:

  1. Solar panel selection – which solar panels offer the best performance and the best value for money
  2. Solar system efficiency – how to get the maximum electrical generation for solar systems.
  3. Solar Inverter selection. Correct inverter selection means maximising system efficiency and long term performance and reliability from the system
  4. Solar tracking systems. Sophistication of solar systems is growing. Canberra residents are increasingly installing solar tracking systems which ensure the solar panels are tracking the sun throughout the day. This can result in system efficiency gains of a huge 24 percent.
  5. Qualification for State Government incentives
  6. Rial system selection. ensuring the solar panels are mounted on a suitable system that is designed to suit the local climate and wind profiles. Ensuring that roof integrity is maintained and leaks and tile breakage are kept to zero or an absolute minimum
  7. Solar system upkeep – ensuring electrical output is maximised through regular cleaning and inverter monitoring.
  8. Bluetooth and wifi inverter monitoring systems – systems that let you know exactly how much electricity the solar system is generating in real time, weekly and monthly data output.

Brand Selection

Lucas will discuss the ins and outs of various solar panels including solar brands like Suntech, Sunnera, ET Solar, Kyocera and Sharp to name a few. Price is one issue but Lucas will discuss the other factors to take into account when choosing a solar panels. The factors include:

  • Panel efficiency
  • Panel warranty
  • Solar irradiance rating
  • Micro inverter integration
  • pulse tolerance protection
  • Australian support for the brand of solar panel

Course Details – please contact Jane quoting course reference SPC 1203. The date for the course is 12 August 2014 commencing at 10 am and finishing around 5.30pm. As solar events are booked out quickly we recommend  registering early for this event. there is no course fee.

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Obama Moves On Coal Fired Power Generation

8 June 2014. America’s carbon action plan aims to promote clean energy. President Obama has announced positive news re reducing carbon based electricity production.  The E.P.A. has unveiled guidelines to reduce soot and carbon emissions significantly. This can only be good news and we look forward to seeing Tony Abbott to follow this initiative.

Posted in renewable energy, Solar Power, Sustainable Growth | Comments Off

Course HCF6012 Update – Renewable Energy and Carbon Footprints

2 June 2014 - Course HCF6012 Update

We have had an overwhelming response to this course and have only 11 seats left available. John Grainger has advised that he can run a second workshop (tentatively penciled in for July 15 2014) as required. Many people have asked if John will be reviewing the changes to the solar power initiatives being offered in South Australia and John advises that he will be looking at the benefits of solar panels installation in Adelaide given the changes to the State and Federal Government incentives over the last 12 months. John has over 20 years of experience in solar power, renewable energy and writing on the subject. His Adelaide solar panels website is widely read by homeowners weighing up the ‘pro’s and con’s’ of solar energy for their home and John attempts to look at trends in solar power in South Australia, the latest developments in renewable energy technologies and the ‘financials’ of solar panel implementation so people can assess the viability of solar for their individual circumstances. John has a science degree and 20 years of electronic and electrical industry experience behind him.

Carbon Footprint Reduction And Renewable Energy

Technologies like solar power, wind power and heat pumps have become synonyms with ‘renewable energy’ over the last decade and there has been an explosion of small scale implementation of these technologies for home usage, however what has been the real impact on greenhouse gas reduction, as a result of these technologies. John will carefully dissect the carbon equations related to the reduction of electricity generated from coal and gas fired power sources versus the carbon ‘inputs’ that go into the creation of these ‘renewable technologies’ and try and answer the question ‘am i benefiting the environment’ by investing in these technologies.

We look forward to John’s presentation and encourage bookings to avoid missing out. For those not familiar with John Grainger please see below.

John Grainger (BSc.)

Mob 0412 767 886



Posted in 2014 Courses, Blancards Course Codes, renewable energy, Solar Power, Solar Power and Wind Energy Seminar - June 11 2013, Sustainable Growth | Comments Off

Reducing Your Household Carbon Footprint – Course HCF6012 July 13 2014

Course HCF6012 July 13 2014 .

Always popular presenter John Grainger will be discussing practical measures all home owners can take to reduce their carbon footprint and at the same time cut their energy bills. John will cover a range of topics including:

  • Convection heating as a low cost winter home heating solution with reduced CO2 footprint
  • Solar Energy Implementation to reduce reliance of grid supplied power and cut dependence on coal fired electricity generation
  • Bio Mass Water recycling. Looking at low carbon waste removal and recycling alternatives
  • Heat Pump Design – An alternative heating and cooling solution that reduces household CO2 creation by up to 40 percent

The course commences at 9.30am and will run to 4.30pm and we will provide a light lunch and refreshments as usual. Please contact Jane for to reserve your place and please quote course HCF6012.


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Renewable Energy Agencies To Go?

23 May 2014. Brian White, a Blancards course regular participant contacted me to highlight that the Government agency ARENA (The Australian Renewable Energy Agency) is going to be closed. This is a concern as renewable energy in Australia has been on a rapid ascent since 2005 when the various Federal Government assistance programs came into being for both small sale and large scale renewable energy projects. The ‘savings’ made by culling ARENA are reportedly 1 billion dollars, however ARENA claim that over 7 Billion dollars of renewable energy projects (including solar power, wind energy, and ‘hot rock’ technologies) were in the ‘pipeline’ and are now at risk. Further reading from the ABC’s Lateline report here and a listing of ARENA’s current projects can be found here.

Jane Crafter

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Canberra Builder Rex Wheeler – May 2014 Seminar

Rex Wheeler is a Canberra builder with over 30 years experience in building new homes around Canberra and the A.C.T. He has an interest in sustainable housing and introducing new building technologies and techniques into his new home construction. We previously scheduled course SIH201 for October but have decided to move the course forwards to 13 May 2014 commencing at 9.30 am.

Rex’s company, Green broker has been a forward thinking design and construction company in Canberra for over 20 years with emphasis on building new homes that offer :

  • low carbon footprint building techniques
  • environmentally friendly heating and cooling systems
  • photo voltaic solar panel energy integration
  • bio mass waste management
  • integrated ‘next generation’ insulation techniques


The housing industry in Australia has built new homes for many years with little regard to their environmental footprint. Rex’s company Green Broker has recognised the need to create new homes that offer clients high specification building – employing the best design and building practices, but also with an emphasis in employing new technologies to minimise carbon footprint and produce a house that is extremely energy efficient and offers maximum comfort year round for the inhabitants of the homes.

Canberra’s climate exhibits very hot summer temperatures and freezing winters but by using the best building techniques and materials Rex has built homes in Canberra and the A.C.T. that maintain comfortable temperatures within the home year round with minimal heating or cooling energy inputs. Rex comments ‘Australia has long lagged the rest of the western world in its application of energy saving building technologies and insulation materials that have been used, in, for example, Sweden for over 30 years. By integrating these ideas and practices into our new homes that we construct in Canberra we have seen tremendous financial and environmental benefits for our clients’.

Course Details: Please contact John Grainger at to secure your booking for the 13 May seminar. please quote course code SH4432.

The course will run from 9.30 am to around 4.30pm with a light luncheon served between 12.30pm and 1pm.

Posted in 2014 Courses, New Home Construction In Canberra | Comments Off

Abbott Government – Sustainability and Environmental Credentials – August 12 Discussion

Wendy Sedillo a long time Blancards participant and guest speaker will be presenting a talk on August 12 2014 at the Blancards Centre discussing the likely direction the Abbott Government will take in its first term in its Environmental and Sustainable living policies.

Wendy, an environmental campaigner for over 25 years holds doubts ober the Liberal Parties environmental policy, particularly their much touted ‘direct action plan’ and she will disect this policy and its implications in the August 12 discussion.

Further Details and Booking:

Please contact Jane Grainger ( to confirm your booking. The talk starts at 11.30am and is expected to run for 4 hours. As usual a lively discussion is encouraged. Light refreshments will be served following the talk.



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Solar Power Energy Storage Project – Part 1

Julian Carter has been participating in Blancards projects for over 5 years and presents his latest project on use of power resistors and batteries in a solar storage unit suitable for residential applications.

At Blancards we have been strong advocated for solar power for over 15 years, well before it became fashionable in Australia. Solar has proven to be a winner for home owners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and help their household budget by ensuring power bills remain manageable. Solar panels have been used to supply up to 85 percent off our daytime electricity needs at Blancards for the past 4 years, but what about our night time usage? I have been developing a novel approach to solar energy storage that is both cost effective and relatively simple to implement. The system involves using low cost recycled car batteries (wet cell lead acid) and suitable power resistors to regulate the charge current supplied to those batteries. Simple charge control electronics is used to monitor and regulate current flow to the resistors.

Description Of Trial Power Bank

Here i describea system capable of storing 8 to 10 Kwh of energy derived from a solar array, into a low cost battery bank. This stored energy can then be released back into a domestic residence, via a standard switching inverter, for night time electricity usage which overcomes many of the ‘objections’ to standard solar system design. The system i put together cost less than $2000 and is expected to have a lifetime of around 8 years, proving to be very cost effective.

Battery Bank Details

We purchased 60 recycled ‘Century’ brand 12 volt 140 amp hour batteries. These batteries were wired in parallel, maybe not the best technique as far as ‘load sharing’ is concerned, but it still seems to perform efficiently, with minimal battery degradation.

Power Resistors

Using a basic ‘brute force’ approach, we used 20 pieces of a  100 watt rated wire wound  power resistor to ensure no over limit current was supplied to the inverter unit (which feeds d.c. in and a.c. out). These power resistors are constructed in a very robust manner. They are constructed using ceramic formers 170 mm in length which have a resistance wire wound tightly over the former. Once the resistance winding is complete the resistor surface is then coated with a silicon based substance which has the following important properties:

  1. Ensures excellent high temperature performance of the resistor and ensures heat dissipation is efficient.
  2. Ensures the resistor body is effectively sealed from humidity and moisture
  3. Ensures long term electrical reliability.

The resistors were purchased from Resistor Specialists a Sydney based manufacturer of power resistors and wire wound resistor products.

Power Conversion

A standard power converter is used to match the solar energy generated into the charge required for the batteries. This ensures that the correct battery voltage (typically 13.2 Volts) is supplied to the battery bank described above. This is actually a very important factor in preserving the capacity of the batteries and most importantly the life of the batteries.

Part 2 will cover the construction and wiring of the unit.



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2014 – Suggestions Please!

2014 Course Input - Blancards
2014 Course Input – Blancards

John and Jane Grainger have suggested that it would be beneficial to get Blancards course  participants to provide feedback on what course subject matter they would like to see included in the 2014 program (yes almost 2014!).

We welcome any suggestions and ideas for the 2014 program. Please email Jess on jessclynch@bigpond .com

Many Thanks

Elizabeth Rowley (0456773484)

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Sustainability In New Home Construction Course SIH201 October 14 2013

We are very pleased to confirm the Sustainability In New Home Construction Course, Course code: SIH201 will be run on October 14 2013 from 9.30am to around 17.30pm.

Course Details:

Rex Wheeler will be running the course. Rex is a very experienced builder in Canberra, his company is Canberra Green Builder and has, over the last decade or so built many wonderful new homes that integrate many leading edge design techniques with the latest building materials and energy saving technologies. Rex has extensive knowledge in all aspects of new home construction including project-management, sourcing suitable land for clients’ new homes and working with Canberra’s best home designers.

Rex has a keen interest in building new homes that offer long term sustainability and the course will identify the most important areas you should consider when looking to build a ‘Green’ or environmmentally friendly new home. Topics covered include

  1. Building materials and maximising thermal mass properties. Thermal mass is the ability of certain materials to store solar radiation and act as regulator on heating and cooling within homes. It is a much under utilised property by many builders and architects. In Canberra where we have wide temperature differentials Sustainable New Homes Course October 2013 - SIH201between summer and winter, correctly optimising new home construction for thermal mass will make a huge impact of the ‘comfort level’ of that home. In the course we detail latest technologies and their implementation into new homes.
  2. Solar Integration. Blancards participants are keen followers of developments in solar as a clean renewable energy source. Rex will discuss his approach to integrating solar p.v. systems into his new home constructions and give examples of energy savings that can be made through this technology.
  3. Water conservation Rex will discuss how harvesting rain run off, through rain water tanks and correctly designed roof geometry can minimise reliance on ‘town water’. It makes huge ecological sense to recycle water within our own homes and Rex will give many practical examples on how to do this.
  4. Superior insulation. Rex will cover the latest insulation technologies he builds into his new homes and analyse how its implementation cuts energy costs by up to 60 percent.

Further information and Reading:

Federal Government Sustainable Home Guide

Registering. Please contact Elizabeth on 0456773484 quoting course code SIH201

Posted in Sustainable Housing | Comments Off

Sustainable Housing Seminar Scheduled For October 2013

Hi All,

Quick note to let you know we have tentatively penciled in October 27 for the Sustainable Housing Seminar. It will be presented by Jason Briggs from Canberra Green Builder and cover many interesting topics related to building a truly sustainable home. Topics covered include:

  • Energy Efficiency Measures
  • Solar Power Integration
  • Effective Building Insulation
  • Passive Solar – Home Orientation
  • Natural Ventilation
  • Landscaping For Sustainability
Please let me know if you would like to attend. At this point in time we are scheduling a time slot from 11.00am to 6.30pm. Light refreshments will (as always) be provided. I will post more details in the next few weeks.
Kind Regards
Elizabeth 0456773484
(Hi All – Seminar details have been updated here. Regards Jane)


Posted in Upcoming Seminars | Comments Off

Solar Power and Wind Energy Seminar – June 11 2013

Given the success of our previous solar energy workshops, we have now just about finalised details of a work of our Solar Power and Wind Power workshop (Course code SWW01) tentatively pencilled in for 11 June 2013.

Background and Course details:

It has been widely reported that Australia now has over 1,000,000 homes with roof-top solar panels installed as of 1 January 2013. This, in our opinion, is proof that Australian’s have and continue to embrace alternatives to fossil fuel based energy production alternatives. The likes of John Grainger (regular presenter at Blancards) and Phil Sylvester (Blancards presenter, Lecturer at Brisbane University School Of Physics and Solar Power Installation Designer in Brisbane) have been advocating solar power as a ‘clean’ and sustainable form of electricity production for many years and their seminars have continued to be widely praised and endorsed within the Australian renewable energy arena.

The Solar Power and Wind Energy Seminar will aim to explain how roof top solar power and domestic wind energy solutions can be used separately or combined to reduce your carbon footprint resulting from your domestic electricity usage usage. The course aims to Blancards solar power and wind power course June 2013 be very practical and Phil and John will give you their step by step guide to integrating solar panels into your home and discuss how Government incentives for solar and wind power can lessen the cost of implementing these measures. Wind power is less well known in Australia as an adjunct to solar power, but, depending on your location can replace up to 60 percent of grid sourced electricity. It is an excellent ‘partner’ with solar panels as wind power can operate during non daylight hours unlike solar.

Booking Information:

The couse will book out fast!! It is offered at no cost and we will serve refreshments after the talk. The course will run from 9-30am until around 5-30pm on 11 June 2013.

Please contact Elizabeth Rowley (currently doing voluntary work (much appreciated!)) at Blancards, on 0456773484. Please quote course identifier number SWW01.

Further Background Information At:

Phil Sylvesters’ Solar Power Brisbane website:

Clean Energy Council Wind Power website:

Federal Government The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) Incentives website:–SRES-/about-sres



Posted in Solar Power and Wind Energy Seminar - June 11 2013 | Comments Off

Blancards 2013 Course Schedule – Amendment to Environment and Personal Values Course

26 March 2012

By now everyone should have received their Blancards 2013 Course Schedule via email. If you have not be sure to check your spam folder as some people found the email there! We are very thanksful for the overwhelming support once again and the calls and emails of encoragement – thank you!

Amendment to Environment and Personal Values Course

The above course was scheduled for April 27 2013, however Marg Cartland the course facilitator has advised that the course now needs to be moved to April 29. We have emailed course participants already enrolled, however there are still spots available on the program. If you can make April 29 you will find Marg’s course very stimulating and it certainly relects Blancard’s core values of sustainable development in harmony with our own internal values.

Contact on 0466554332 for further details

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March 16 – Adelaide Solar Power and Renewable Energy Living Seminar

7 February 2012

Our resident solar power expert John Grainger will give another interesting talk about latest developments in residential solar power and the uses of premium efficiency solar technology to totally eliminate your dependency from grid connected electricity supply. John has long been an advocate of solar power in Adelaide and is a well respected figure in the renewable energy field and has made many invaluable contributions to education at the Blancards Adelaide Hills centre. Seminar details;

March 16 2013

11am – Welcome and Discussion Outline

11.15am – Latest residential solar power developments in Adelaide, including latest Adelaide Solar Power seminar March 16 2013generation photo-voltaic panels, solar inverters and how to maximise solar electric outyput.

13.00 – Break for lunch

14.00pm – Case Study – How John eliminated a 50KW Hour per day electricity bill of family residence in Norwood, Adelaide S.A. by using the latest solar technology, in particular, high efficiency solar p.v. panels. A video of John’s intial solar panel design concept for the home, through to component selection and solar installation onto the homes roof and finally its connection to the grid. John interviews the homes’ owners (Reynolds family) to see how their electricity bill has been replaced by a quarterly credit, due to electricity being ‘fed back’ to the South Australian electricity grid.

16.00pm – Question and Answer Session. John will happily answer all your questions around solar panel installation and the implications of recent Federal and State Government changes in feed tariff and rebates.

17.00 pm – Tea/Coffee Light refreshments

Note – there is no charge for the seminar

Please contact Catherine on (08)56774332 for further details and bookings

About John:

John Grainger (MSc.) has over 30 years experience in solar power, renewable energy and sustainable living in and around Adelaide, South Australia. He is a regular contributor at the Blancards Centre for Sustainability and is one of the most well respected people in Australia on any issue regarding renewable energy.

Posted in March 16 - Adelaide Solar Power and Renewable Energy Living Seminar | Comments Off

April 2013 – Sustainability Workshop with Jane Goodhall (former UNRISD advisor)

8 January 2013

We are thrilled to announce that Jane Goodhall will host a one day workshop / discussion group on the Green Economy and Sustainable Development on 6 April 2012 11am -4pm. Jane has over 20 years experience and knowledge in the area of sustainability, is an Oxford University Honours graduate in Environmental Science and has consulted for more than 10 years with U.N.R.I.S.D. (


Call Jane Grainger on 0466554332 to register your place at this exciting event. There is no charge and light refreshments will be served after Ms. Goodhalls’ presentation.

Posted in Sustainability Workshop - Jane Goodhall 6 April 2013, Sustainable Growth | Comments Off

Blancards 2013 Course Schedule

2013 Blancards Schedule!

What a year its been! We have had a tremendous response to every single program we have run in 2012 and look forward to another exciting year in 2013. Jane Grainger is putting a tentative schedule together over the Christmas / New Year period and you are welcome to email ideas and submissions for consideration, however we need to finalise the schedule by 1 February 2013 so please contact Jane prior to that date. Per 2012 our focus again will be around:

  • Sustainable Living
  • Solar Power Implementation
  • Eco-Farming
  • Organic farming practices

and the ‘Human Sustainable’ Programs will centre on:

  • Meditation Practice
  • Yoga and Pilates
  • Vegan Living
  • Living by Your Personal Values

Jane can be contacted on 0466554332 if required, though email contact is preferred during this hectic time of year.

Thank You

We have been so grateful for your ongoing support. We wish all our course participants and supporters a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year


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