Modernizing a Tribal Network - Episode 545 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Kristan Johnson, Telephone Operations Manager of the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority (TOUA), which provides telephone, electric, water, gas, and Internet service to a large portion of those living throughout the Tohono O'odham Nation in south-central Arizona. Currently, the utility authority serves 4,000 telephone and broadband subscribers. Kristan joins the show to talk about what's like serving as a telephone and Internet service provider for more than two decades at this point, in an extremely rural area. TOUA's plan is to extend new fiber infrastructure to the entirety of the reservation by the end of 2024. To get it done, Kristan says, the utility will use USDA ReConnect Round 3 and other grant funds, as well as internal investment.

She shares with Christopher how the network has been mindful that the devil is in the details, including everything from using modern software platforms to plot both old and new assets, report properly, and manage local politics and member expectations for a public that often doesn't know how the Internet reaches it.

Kristan mentions ArcGIS and we tracked down this information that is related.

The Branch of Geospatial Support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs provides software, support, and training to federally recognized Tribes (employees or and contracted or compacted Tribal employees). 

To be eligible for these benefits, the organization must submit an application to participate in the Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) program. The products offered through this program are provided at no cost to ELA participants. Following receipt of the application, applicants can expect to receive a decision within 15 business days.

The software available includes ArcGIS Desktop, Pro, or Enterprise + additional add-on licenses (e.g., 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, Geostatistical Analyst, and Network Analyst); Portal for ArcGIS; ArcGIS Online; and ArcGIS Insights. 

With or without software downloaded, eligible Tribal entities can register for ESRI-led training online at no cost. These trainings range in experience from introductory courses for those getting started in GIS to managing geospatial data in ArcGIS. Registration for each course opens about one month prior to the course start date.

This show is 26 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.


Kristan Johnson (00:07):
It's based on trust supporting each other, having open communication.

Christopher Mitchell (00:11):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in St. Paul, Minnesota. But today I'm at hela River Indian Community at the National Tribal Telecommunications Association, and I'm speaking with Kristan Johnson, the telephone operations manager at the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority. Welcome to the show.

Kristan Johnson (00:34):
Thank you. It's good to be here.

Christopher Mitchell (00:35):
I feel like I've met so many great people from T O U A which I guess, and some people just say to, is that right? Yes,

Kristan Johnson (00:41):

Christopher Mitchell (00:41):
Right. So Tohono O'odham utilities Authority, and you have been doing broadband for a while, but let's just start with what is Tohono O'odham?

Kristan Johnson (00:50):
Okay. Tohono O'odham, the meaning behind the name is people of the desert. So where the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority and our company services, electric water, telephone, propane, Internet and cellular for members of the nation. And the nation is nestled in the southwest Arizona. We are 4,400 square miles, so we're roughly the size of Connecticut, and we have roughly about 70 miles of our land that's adjacent to the US Mexico border.

Christopher Mitchell (01:21):
And you have on the order of 4,000 people on an area the size of Connecticut,

Kristan Johnson (01:26):
Actually, we serve about 4,000 people for broadband and telephone. Our membership, I believe, is around 38,000.

Christopher Mitchell (01:34):
Oh, okay. So you're quite

Kristan Johnson (01:35):
Luxury. Yeah, so like half, about half of that live on Tribal lands and the other half live off of Tribal lands. So we don't serve everybody with telephone and broadband. But we do have about 4,000 members.

Christopher Mitchell (01:49):
And that utility does so many different things. Are you serving most of those members then? Yes, absolutely. With something,

Kristan Johnson (01:54):
Yes. Yes.

Christopher Mitchell (01:56):
And let's, let's talk about how you got into telephone. You are one of the original NTTA members from what I can tell. I think if he was being old school, there's a lot of newcomers coming along. <Laugh>, how did you get into it?

Kristan Johnson (02:07):
Right, so my predecessors at the time we were under mountain states and we had a few party lines that, you know, they served. So in 1986, so about 40 years ago, the Tribal chartered us to become a telephone company. We acquired what little plant was available through Mountain States, and then we built our own copper platform based on that to start serving all of the villages. There's 72 villages on our reservation, so we serve all of them with telephone. In 1998, we started a partnership with, at that time, cell one went through Alltel and now Verizon. So we're a reseller for them. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> for Cellular. And then in 1999 we started our IS p those are the three major parts of the, that I oversee. The, there's other department heads that oversee everything else.

Christopher Mitchell (03:03):
You made a comment on the stage that you try to do everything that you ask your staff to do

Kristan Johnson (03:10):
<Laugh>. Exactly. So I do, I truly believe that I would never ask my staff to do something that I couldn't physically or wouldn't do ever do. So, and I hope that they instill that in their staff that, you know, if it's too cumbersome, you know, speak up, let's find resources to help us get there. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, but for the most part, let's try, you

Christopher Mitchell (03:29):
Know, when did you come into the authority?

Kristan Johnson (03:32):
I started with T O U A in 2000 I came in as a customer service representative, and then I became a supervisor of our business solution. And then in 2010, I became the operations manager. So I oversee our central office, I oversee our outside plant, our network operations, the I S P and sales.

Christopher Mitchell (03:54):
This is an area that strikes me as just being incredibly difficult. We're talking about an area that is very low density and trying to serve that, especially back in the day with dsl, must have been a nightmare.

Kristan Johnson (04:05):
Yes, yes. We did start out with 56 K and we still have a lot of areas that are underserved, unserved, and it is my plan and my goal to have our entire reservation with fiber by the end of 2024.

Christopher Mitchell (04:21):
Wow. I thought you might say the end of the 2020s <laugh>. No,

Kristan Johnson (04:24):

Christopher Mitchell (04:25):

Kristan Johnson (04:25):
We with the help of the Obama administration, we were recipients of the bip, the ARO grants mm-hmm. <Affirmative> loan grant at the time. So this is

Christopher Mitchell (04:33):
After the the fallout of the 2008 emergency where Yes. You were not a lot of Tribals got that money. I'm sorry to interrupt you. I just wanna make sure people were familiar with what timeframe we're talking

Kristan Johnson (04:42):
About. No, you are fine. And we built out about 50%, 45, 50% to our most populated areas. We went idle after the requirement in 2015 for buildout. And then in 2018 19 we started up again to finish off the rest of it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then we have been, you know, very blessed to be recipients of N T I A reconnect three Arizona broadband funding to help us finish out the rest.

Christopher Mitchell (05:11):
Well, I think it's, it's gotta be one of those things that you're, you're blessed, but it's also a matter of having been well prepared because of having made those pre previous investments and then stewarding them along the way.

Kristan Johnson (05:22):
<Laugh>, absolutely.

Christopher Mitchell (05:23):
<Laugh>. there's a couple of things also from your presentation that I, I wanted to note. One is I, I'm curious if you can just tell us a little bit more about were you in 2018 before more money became available, were you just I don't know if you were getting money from the state or were you just reinvesting some of the funds that you had? How were you paying for the, the resumption in 2018?

Kristan Johnson (05:45):
So we became because we're an ILEC, an ETC incumbent telephone company. And we're iILEC, so we're federally regulated. We're not a CLEC, so we don't report to the states. But we receive money through the Connect America Fund. Oh, okay. Too. So we have obligations to build out as well to provide speeds of 25, download, three megabytes upload. So that's where we're getting a lot of, that's where we started to get a lot of the funding to do that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But since we were able to acquire more, we can fast track this and make sure that our Tribal is modernized with technology.

Christopher Mitchell (06:22):
And so even though you had a kind of a low standard you had to meet, you chose to ma invest in fiber optics. Yes. With that, that's, we've seen a number of the smaller non-Tribal owned companies do that. And I'm sure there's some other Tribals that are, I would hope doing that as well. Yeah. Yeah. Because I sometimes hear from people and, and they're frustrated at cause that was, is that part of the alternative the a c a m model? Yes, the acam and and I see people saying, well that's, it's terrible. That's a 25 3 minimum and it should be higher. And I'm like, yeah, well, most of 'em are building fiber from what I can tell <laugh>. So it's gonna be okay.

Kristan Johnson (06:54):
<Laugh>. Yeah. Cuz under the legacy that we used to operate on, it was the minimum was ten one. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, 10 megabytes download one megabyte upload with the Reconnect three funding. It's a hundred megabytes download, and I think 20 megabytes upload, so mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, the standards are increasing. So we hope to be able to keep up with that. We're also building a wireless infrastructure. If the pandemic taught us anything, it really displayed our flaws as a company that we weren't able to turn up wireless services mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at the drop of a hat. So we have been investing in we went after the 2.5 spectrum, we received it. So we're pushing that out through a buy sales network. And then in areas that we didn't get the license, we're going with an unlicensed spectrum on the 3.65 under the same,

Christopher Mitchell (07:44):
Which I think probably works really well for you. I mean, first of all, for people who aren't familiar with this part of the country, you don't have a lot of water in the air. You don't have a lot of big trees. I will say the density of the cactus is, the saguaros is far greater than anything that I imagined <laugh>. So <laugh>,

Kristan Johnson (08:02):
Right. We do have some mountains as well that, you know, but we, for the most part, we weren't looking at a mobility portion of it. We were looking more at something in relation to the village itself. So we were serving the village, not the outskirt, so that everything from that center point or wherever we put the wireless unit will serve the entire community for that village.

Christopher Mitchell (08:24):
And how many villages do you have? Like, there are quite a few.

Kristan Johnson (08:27):
We have 72. Yeah. But we serve 54 of the 72.

Christopher Mitchell (08:31):
Okay. It's just, it's wild to me. I mean, I I, I, in December, I was out there with my family in, in parts of, of Arizona near Tucson. And it, it is just, it's remarkable. And I just, I have said to say like, I mean, I was really excited to see the saguaros and I just had no idea what they were like. But I can't imagine you were just telling me earlier how beautiful it is in May. But I, with getting, getting a avoiding the, the ridges, but getting a tower up, I have to assume that you get very good wireless performance because of, you don't have to deal with like trees, leaves you know, those, you just have the ridges really to deal with. I'm guessing other than that you have pretty good line of sight, I would hope.

Kristan Johnson (09:11):
No, it's, it's perfect. It's perfect for that setup.

Christopher Mitchell (09:13):
And so what kind of capacity can you deliver over the wireless system over the 2.5?

Kristan Johnson (09:18):
Right now we're delivering 250 megabytes. It has more capacity than that, but we're, you know, we're still in the early phases of it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, just trying to see what we want to deploy for those areas and what is the need. Because if we have fiber there, this will just serve as redundancy for that.

Christopher Mitchell (09:34):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, how are you dealing with with payment? Are you, I mean, with utility authority, I'm guessing you charge people for lots of different services. Are you charging for Internet access?

Kristan Johnson (09:43):
We are, we're currently charging for Internet access. Because the cost to get Internet to us is we're getting it through Lumen and it's quite expensive. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So we are part of neca, so we do follow their tariffs for high cost loop support.

Christopher Mitchell (10:01):
And that's N E C A for people who aren't familiar? Yes. Yes. Which I don't remember what that is. <Laugh>, there's actually multiple necca, but there's a telecommunications necca that people can Yes, yes. Look up if they so desire. <Laugh>. <laugh>,

Kristan Johnson (10:11):
Exactly. But we are also promoting heavily the acp, the Affordable Connectivity program. We are going door to door. We're sharing that information and getting our Tribal members to take advantage of it because it's a $75 credit off of their Internet. So in a lot of cases, they can get the Internet service for free. Mm-Hmm.

Christopher Mitchell (10:31):
<Affirmative>, how are you, how is that working out for you?

Kristan Johnson (10:34):
It's working out great. In the beginning when we were just relying on social media, the radio, those types of things, I think people didn't believe it. It was too good to be true, who would ever give me $75 mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But as we're going door to door and we're, we're talking to them and sharing this, I think it's more believable. They're, they're coming and we are getting about 30 people signed up each

Christopher Mitchell (10:57):
Month. And are you finding it's an administrative headache to go through that? Or is the signup process working better for you? A mix?

Kristan Johnson (11:03):
It's a little bit of both. Yeah. <laugh>, yeah. So I, you know, I'm not the one going out door to door, my staff is, but because it leaves us very short staffed, I then pick up the slack in the front office. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, it's just, everybody's wearing multiple hats mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so it's a little bit of both. It's, it's great to be out there doing this mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and once it's done, it's done. But in the interim, we just gotta bear through it.

Christopher Mitchell (11:29):
One of the things that you had mentioned, and I'm, I'm saving my favorite for last, we're gonna talk about Tribal politics, but before that, you had mentioned something that we harp on a lot, which is that you have an older network and a lot of times older networks don't have great documentation. You don't always know where everything is. And and I, and we've heard that from others with utilities like the water systems underground, and they don't always have great maps of where it had been. So you're using the opportunity as you're expanding this network to develop a better map of all of the things you oversee. How does that work?

Kristan Johnson (12:02):
Oh my gosh. Okay. So this started a long time ago and we've stumbled across it. I mean, just stumbled and, and had obstacle after obstacle. But what we've done is we've, with, through our engineering company, Palmetto, they introduced us to Esri and for Tribal nations under bia a, you can get the Esri license for free. Oh, wow. Yes. So we took advantage of that and we, we we use the Esri platform. So we go out, when we're designing a place for fiber we have to get everything. So because the water's in our company, the electric's in our company, most of our electric is overhead. So that's easier. The water's unknown. So we're potholing everything and we're collecting that data as we find it. And then we're just keeping everything, I mean, everything. We're getting corners of the house, corners of the fence, corners of property, water size of water, old copper, you know, then of course where our fiber's going.

So that's all the data that we're collecting. Then we pass it off to our engineering company who then puts that all on the staking sheet so that when we're going out, we don't send a chance to run into that. We're also noting any archeological sites in some of the more traditional villages mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, we're able to note that and keep it for us, you know, for future use or future reference. So that hasn't existed. We have a lot of water lines in the ground that we have no idea are there until we hit it. And you heard today, sometimes you flood the yards, you know, we're wasting all this precious water. So we're hoping that by collecting all this data, not just for the water department, but for ourselves, that, you know, we can protect it going forward.

Christopher Mitchell (13:45):
When you say potholing, my understanding of that is limited. But I'm familiar with it where like if you're coming down a street and you're doing some underground boring generally you'll pothole where, you know that utility line is crossing it, but you don't know where your utility lines always are. So how are you doing? You're doing the

Kristan Johnson (14:05):
Potholing. So what we're doing is we're finding the water meter and we're trying, we're we pothole at the water meter and then we we're assuming it's a straight, straight line back. Yep. And so we just, we pothole every five feet just to make sure if it should veer off or tee off somewhere. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that we're catching that back to the main, and then the main, then our the main lines, the water department will come in and fight those, but the service lines, the lines on the customer property mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, we're doing, we're using that method. We don't always do perfect on the customer property because sometimes it's a water hose underground or it's, I dunno, makeshift piping.

Christopher Mitchell (14:45):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Anyone who's working with with random people on their homes knows that there's weird things underground <laugh>. <Laugh>.

Kristan Johnson (14:51):
Yeah. So that's how, that's how we're doing it. Just the high pressure water, you know, opening up the, or just a little bit enough to see, capture the data and then, and then we're using you know, survey grade type so that we're within centimeters of what it is when we have it on a map.

Christopher Mitchell (15:07):
Yeah. Friend of mine Travis, who runs USI USA fiber in Minneapolis, he's they must have done this to 60,000 homes now underground. And they the, my favorite thing that they've hit so far is as old refrigerator, probably like 70, 80 years old. <Laugh>,

Kristan Johnson (15:22):
We've had a lot of burn pits. Yeah. But <laugh> Yeah. We get nervous. So then we have to report them back mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to our cultural preserving office to let them know and give us clearance to Right. To move on. But you, Matt mentioned the saguaros earlier, we have to be very cautious of those cuz they're protected plants. Right. so the fines for destroying a Saguaro is like 25,000 a foot.

Christopher Mitchell (15:48):
Wow. And they're, they have extensive root structures.

Kristan Johnson (15:50):
Yes. Yes. And they go like a hundred feet plus. So 25,000 you knock one out and don't report it.

Christopher Mitchell (15:57):
<Laugh>. Yes.

Kristan Johnson (15:58):
It's expensive.

Christopher Mitchell (15:59):
Yeah. I'm sure that that your crews are very careful though. I mean, one of the things I've found is people down here, everyone loves the Soros and wants to make sure, cause there's, they're threatened you know, from multiple ecological changes and things like that. And I I was just, I was fascinated to know that you, you occasionally get freezes and you can tell that cuz the saguaros have a, an an they'll hold that in their history for a very long time. Yep. <laugh>. So, so the, the fun, the fun question then, which we'll see how much you wanna speak this particulars versus being more general. But this is something that I'll say, like, I got a very hard email from someone that I really liked regarding one an issue with Tribal politics where someone just really got screwed over and it was just, it sucks to hear. And and when I made, when I made a mention of that on Monday there was several people in the room who were just nodding their heads. And so you, you, you specifically mentioned this on stage that we gotta keep politics out of this. So what, what brought that to mind?

Kristan Johnson (17:02):
So yesterday on stage, the question was if there was something, a message I could send myself mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, when I first got into the industry, what would it be? And I said, to avoid Tribal politics just over the years, you know, a lot of times pol politicians get into it. And I don't think that in the industry we're in is gonna be solved by politics. It's more of a technical issue. And that's what I meant that, you know, until you understand it, political views, political stances aren't gonna remedy the problem. It has to be a, a technical remedy.

Christopher Mitchell (17:36):
Right. You're, you're looking at a technical problem of like, of like, you have some amount of money, we're gonna use it to connect this home. How are we gonna do it in an efficient way? And and that's a question for people that are not political to be with. Yes.

Kristan Johnson (17:50):
Yes. You know, to trust us that, you know, we're doing everything by all means to keep the cost low so that we're not passing on any unnecessary cost to the members mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and that we're using the, the money wisely so that we avoid fraud, abuse and waste.

Christopher Mitchell (18:06):
Now I'm curious about this because one of the things that when Matt and I were working on the Tribal broadband boot camps, we, we've really wanted to do is try to avoid any kind of political leadership coming to our events <laugh> because we felt like it was so much easier to have, you know, engineers and outside plant people and people who are just trying to solve the problem. Like you said, we want them to be connecting with each other across Tribals and across any other kind of boundaries. Whereas political leaders might have reasons not to wanna work with this Tribal or that Tribal or Right. Or that sort of a thing. So now I'm hearing that some people would like us to do leadership events where we are bringing in Tribal councils. And I'm curious if you would have any advice in terms of, of talking with them about what are, what are things to that are perhaps unnecessary politics that are brought into this sometimes? Right.

Kristan Johnson (18:58):
So I agree. I think Tribal, there should be a training for pa for Tribal politics because I don't think they know the boots on the ground effect, you know, getting into some of the, the things that you face mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in the industry. So, so you know, like the switching that takes place, you know, the trenching, there's a place for them in it, you know, when it comes to right of ways when it comes to archeological sites to permits. Okay. I get it. But I do think that they need to be educated because it's not all about one politics or money, you know, it's, it's more of a different type of investment. It's a mental investment and it's, you know, something that's gonna help us later on. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I do think that they should be educated. I really, really do. Cuz I think that's where the misconception comes, is in their mind they have this idea of formulated that's totally off base. And I would hate to have any Tribal leader, you know, speak to it and just be in the, in the vision that they don't know what they're talking about.

Christopher Mitchell (20:01):
One of the things that came to mind is I think a need to help them understand the challenges of working with N T I A. And I think we've lost several people who had told Tribal leadership were getting this money around this time, and then a year later the money hasn't arrived and they look like they don't know what they're doing. Yeah. But it's not their fault. They didn't know that there was gonna be these delays. Right. We have statutes that say the money will be out by a certain time and there's complications and and so that's one of those things I feel like, you know, you're a, you have 20 years of experience in this and I'm, I'm guessing you probably have a sense of when you're telling something leadership something will happen. You probably don't tell 'em that until you have certainty <laugh> that is really massive.

Kristan Johnson (20:39):
Exactly. You know, and that, and that's true. I mean we have publications cuz we're a recipient of the Arizona commerce broadband brand that they had. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we were announced it was public a few months ago. So I think everybody was under the assumption, well, T O U A got their money. Right. Everybody, you know, we were named a Cox and a few others. Well, they couldn't award us until US Treasury gave them the money. I mean, they weren't gonna give money they didn't have. So you're right. And it, but when publications go out, you know, these ideas start to formulate that, oh, they have money, they should get started. Why are they dragging their feet? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, well, we really didn't get it. And, you know, so I think that that's, you know, a portion that they need to learn that it's not always because it's announced. I mean, I think they get excited and they want, you know, the publicity, but in reality we're still waiting on the federal government too.

Christopher Mitchell (21:33):
There's also a dynamic that happens at all over the place, local governments in non-Tribal areas where I feel like you get a big award and people are like, well, why, why is that money all going into them? And, you know, you're talking about you now have a lot of experience with this over, over all the years and, you know, since Obama, the ARA programs. I'm curious, did you ever run into that where people were like, wow, like you have all this money in a bank account. Like we could use it for this, we could use it for that and they may not appreciate all the reporting character requirements and things like that.

Kristan Johnson (22:05):
Fortunately for us, we haven't had that, but I, I think they, you know, the eyebrows do go up and wonder what does T O U A do with all their money? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we're audited just like anybody else. Our our information, our financial information is given to our Tribal government to see that, you know exactly where every dollar went. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So when it comes to grant dollars you know, you use it up. I mean, there's a lot of times you end up putting in some of your own because it's not enough. Right. You know, you, you have different obstacles that you face. And like right now, the supply chain, you know, and the cost of everything is going up. When we applied for these grant dollars, the costs were lower. And now that we're here, fast forward, the costs have increased. So you can almost bet you're gonna have to start putting in some of your own money in to make sure that the obligation is fulfilled.

Christopher Mitchell (22:53):
Right. And even though the project might be expensive, I mean, you're a larger Tribal, so the amounts that you got are probably in proportion. But some of the Tribals in California might be looking at an amount that is multiple times they're yearly budget mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and it's all coming in one check. And so it's kind of overwhelming. Yeah. <laugh> I'm curious, one last question then. You have a great staff that I've gotten to know somewhat over the Tribal broadband bootcamps. And do you have any advice for like how you've been able to attract and develop that local talent to, to get them interested and to, to keep having the staff so you're not having to bring in contractors from Tucson or something to get your work done? <Laugh>,

Kristan Johnson (23:30):
It's, it's based on trust mainly that supporting each other, having open communication. I am very, very blessed to have the staff that I have, especially my leadership. The entry level positions are a little more harder to come by. It just, I think everybody's facing that. No one wants to work or whatever reason we're not getting it. But, you know, my, my leadership, they're very young. But they're very strong. When my time has come for me to move on, I don't want the decision for my replacement to be made easy. I want them all to apply. I want them all to feel that they have a chance at it and make it hard for whoever's interviewing to select my replacement. Right. <laugh> <laugh>. But I, you know, they, they all have a different skillset set. I will never claim to know everything. And when I do have meetings, they are usually with me because they're the ones that know, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative> vendors. I don't generally speak to vendors because you need to talk to my staff who are involved in it. And when you sell them, they know the process, they know where to come for support. So that's how I operate and I hope that's why they stay with me and they let me lead them.

Christopher Mitchell (24:38):
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for your time today.

Kristan Johnson (24:40):
All right. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Ry Marcattilio (24:42):
We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available. Muni Email with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handles at communitynets, follow muni Stories on Twitter, the handles at muni networks. Subscribe to this and other podcasts from I lsr, including building Local Power Local Energy Rules, and the Composting for Community Podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount. Keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Hughes B for the song, warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.