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Building Digital Equity in Detroit - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 323
This week on the podcast, we get insight into a community network that puts extra emphasis on the word “community.” Diana Nucera, Director of the Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) talks with Christopher about how the people in her city and their diversity are the driving forces behind the connectivity they have created.
Diana and Christopher review the origins of the DCTP and some of the challenges Diana and her group have had to contend with to get the project this far. She also describes how the program is doing more than providing Internet access at a reasonable cost and how perspectives about technology extend into many other areas of life. Those perspectives influence how people use or don’t use the Internet, which in turn, impact digital inclusion. Getting people online is only one ingredient in the recipe for digital equity.
In addition to information about the specific ways stewards in the program help expand it, Diana describes how they and other participants in the program have benefitted in unexpected ways. She shares the progress of the DCTP and, most importantly, some of the valuable lessons that she’s learned that can help other communities who may decide to establish similar programs to help improve digital inclusion on a local level.
This show is 40 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.
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Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Check out this interview with Diana from November 2017:
Diana Nucera: This work takes time and love. So if you're going to go for it, make sure you have those two things.
Lisa Gonzalez: This is episode 323 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. This week, Christopher speaks with Diana Nucera of the Detroit Community Technology Project. The project is based in the Detroit community — and its people — to bring better connectivity to residents, community organizations, and more recently, local businesses. In addition to establishing a community network, the DCTP provides technical support, trains local stewards to expand the program, and helps empower and unite the local community. Diana explains the history of the DCTP, how it works, and describes some of the challenges they've overcome. She also shares some of the unexpected benefits and describes how just getting people online is only one part of digital inclusion. Now, here's Christopher with Diana Nucera from the Detroit Community Technology Project.
Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell with the institute for Local Self-Reliance up in Minneapolis, talking to Diana Nucera today, the Director of Detroit Community Technology Project. Welcome to the show, Diana.
Diana Nucera: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Christopher Mitchell: It's really great to have you — having someone from, you know, another strong midwestern city, a city that's recovering. It's doing much better than it had been and is filled with amazing culture and people. But, let's talk a little bit about your organization, and then we're gonna talk about how it's related to some other organizations and movements to make it a little bit of a map, I think. But what's the Detroit Community Technology Project?
Diana Nucera: Sure. So the Detroit Community Technology Project started in 2014, coming off of basically the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program that was put out by — stimulus funds put out by the Obama Administration that the Digital Justice Coalition in Detroit had gotten. And so our work spun off of that and is focusing on looking at how to support people in creating technology solutions that are rooted community and meet a community need but not only enhance our relationship with each other, but also the planet. And so we've been working on different projects, from wireless communication systems to resilient organizing strategies, and then also looking into data and our rights around data and privacy security. So all of those sort of fit into this [idea of] what makes a healthy digital ecosystem, which is what the Detroit Community Technology Project is most interested in.
Christopher Mitchell: And this is a part of a long chain of work in terms of trying to give digital tools and really help people that have been left behind by the economy, by the existing power structure, that's been going on for a long time. Can you just give us a brief, maybe — you know, I don't know if it goes back 20 years, but how does it fit into the Allied Media Project and things like that?
Diana Nucera: Right. So to understand our work is sort of to understand the chain of events and that one thing leads to another, in that our work is very much formed as one thing leads to another. So the story starts with the start of the Allied Media Conference, and it's moved to Detroit in 2007, I believe. And [we] sort of started a media lab there, which the idea was thinking about what would a potluck of technology look like. And at the time [it] was really thinking about access, not particularly in like, who doesn't have access to the internet or like, who doesn't have equipment, but thinking about like, why are we so protective over our tech? And why does it create so much crime? And what if we created a space in which people were willingly sharing these devices with each other and teaching and learning together? Which at the time felt really radical for people. They were like, "What do you mean, I'm going to leave my tech here with you at the AMC while there's hundreds of people around?"
Christopher Mitchell: When many of us think of technology, I think we think of opportunities, and you linked it with crime. And I also just want to know — you said AMC, which is the Allied Media Conference, a wonderful event that to my shame I have not attended because it's almost always at an inconvenient time of year for my schedule. So this is something that I think is really worth just noting so these people have a sense of where you're coming from. These tools that have been developed, you know, they really haven't been a source of opportunity in the communities you're working in.
Diana Nucera: I think they have a potential to be. But for instance, if you are just given a sort of smart phone and using it to consume like social media or media, then you don't ever see the problem solving potential. And so what I noticed back in 2007 — and at the time I was working in youth media, working with youth in Chicago, and sort of as a volunteer for the Allied Media Conference. And thinking about this media lab, I just remember, like, every time we would open up a lab or someone would get a new piece of technology, there was always some kind of crime that would happen around it. So like, many labs got broken into and a lot of the things got stolen, or some youth would get jumped and their phones and get taken, or their computers would get stolen. And so it became really clear to me at the time that it's not that people don't want these things. It's just sort of, like, scary to have them, and mind you, this was when smartphones were a little newer. So I think as technology sort of progresses, these issues become a little less because they become normalized and we're all walking around with our phones. When I remember walking around at the time or just some rough spots in Chicago, [if] you had a phone, it was similar to having like a pair of Jordan's back in the day when people would like take your shoes, you know. Just to recognize that within these different economic situation, technology can play a role of solving a potential issue, but it also creates a sense of danger for people. So you have to — There's all this, like, security around it and trying to protect these assets. And I think I've been really interested in thinking about, well, if we remove that element, can you build community with technology rather than the individual sort of endeavors where people are protecting their own gear and only using technology for their own self gain. And that's kind of where this idea of a media lab came out of. Also, thinking about digital justice, which means that [there's] not just access to people, but like, what if we created a culture in which sharing technology and using technology to solve problems together — not just as techies coming in and supporting people — but like really using it as a tool for innovation on a community level and on a neighborhood level. Like, what does that look like, and what can that do to revitalize a city? And so our work has sort of stemmed from that.
Christopher Mitchell: And that's really good context. I did divert you a little bit from the question that I'd asked and didn't let you answer it. So I want to get back into where you're leaving off, but just so people have a sense of a little bit more of the history. So you mentioned the Allied Media Conference moves to Detroit in 2007. If you can walk me through briefly how that ends up and leads to the Equitable Internet Initiative, the EII, that we're going to be talking more about. Please walk me through that.
Diana Nucera: Sure. I will do the most abbreviated version I can for the sake of this medium, but it is quite a long story and you know, out of respect for the history of people involved, I'll do my best.
Christopher Mitchell: Well, and I think, just briefly, this is well captured by a Roosevelt Institute study, I believe. Has that been published yet? I know I've reviewed it, but I don't know if it's been published yet.
Diana Nucera: I don't think it has been published.
Christopher Mitchell: Okay. It will soon be documented quite well, and so people should be on the lookout for that after. I'm sure this interview will peak their interest.
Diana Nucera: So we started off with, like I said, the media lab and this idea of a potluck of technology and a space in which people can teach and learn together. That's sort of the birth of the pedagogy. So the science and art of how we approach teaching technology emerged from that moment. As the Allied Media Conference grew, in 2009, we had a switch over in the federal government, and that's when Obama was now in power and released these federal stimulus packages, and one was about broadband adoption. So it was a session in the Allied Media Conference in 2009, which I believe was called Building a Healthy Digital Ecolog, lead by Josh Breitbart that was looking at the ways in which communities could go after federal funding to then build their systems that they need. If there's something that's been prevalent within all of this, all the years of this work, it's that technology infrastructure is often overlooked within city planning or any sort of public development. It seems to be a private sector thing. So we were looking at, how do you look at this federal funding to bring it into more of a the public sector, like if people are sort of taking over and building themselves. So from there we created a series. We won this stimulus funding after developing the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition. And so that formed out of the AMC session. The digital justice coalition went on and said, "Hey, we can't apply for these funds if you don't know what people want or how they need technology." So then, burning from the media lab, we said, "Hey, let's create a DiscoTech," which is short for discovering technology. It's pretty fun. And my idea was to get all of the members of the coalition and their communities that they are connected with to create these sort of stations that allowed people to teach and learn together because you can't enter into a conversation about what you need or want to use tech for, if you don't know what it is or what it can do. And so that marks another point of truly understanding how digital justice work and stuff. We have a pedagogy of sharing and teaching and learning together with the community; then comes this like understanding that education is at the core of participation, especially within this particular realm, within the digital realm in Detroit. That was around 2011 when we started looking at [it], got BTOP funding, and then built these programs called Detroit Future. And there's Detroit Future Media, Detroit, Future Youth, and Detroit Future Schools, none of which are associated with Detroit Future City. That came after our success. The one I ran, which I'll speak about, is the Detroit Future Media. And the idea of broadband adoption was not getting people a connection to the Internet, but showing people how to move from being consumers of media to be producers. So what if we all created online businesses or digital media to share a campaign and then move that from the analog world as a community into the digital world as a community. So, one of the best metaphors I like around this is sort of moving from the concept of the Internet as the information super highway to more of a neighborhood that has the equivalent of bike paths, parks, and public spaces. And so we learned that, like, because of the sort of inequity within technology in general and the structural racism that exists within Detroit, that it was very scary for people to go online. It's an overwhelming place, and there's racism and sexism and all this stuff that exists. And so that's where we were, like, if we come together as a community, we can carve out the spaces that we need in order to really start to develop this online space.
Christopher Mitchell: If you don't mind, Diana, let me jump in for a second because I think a lot of my listeners are probably coming from a place where they're not experiencing that on a regular basis. And I can immediately imagine that, you know, on Twitter in particular that we've certainly seen a lot of ugliness. In fact, people who change their avatar from a white man to a woman or particularly a woman of color, they certainly see a tremendous level of abuse they had never seen before. But I'm curious if there's other things in terms of discrimination that again, I probably wouldn't even be aware of that that come to your mind, just to paint that picture for some listeners.
Diana Nucera: I think gender violence is definitely something that comes to mind, like Gamergate and the community. Anyone who actually wanted to create — a woman who wanted to create a new kind of gaming, and there's literally groups that are formed to prevent you from doing these things. So I think it happens within a lot of gender dynamics. But then you have to consider, like, the Internet is just a reflection of the analog world. And so whatever issues you have in the analog world, so your day to day whether it be economic disparity or sexual racism or domestic violence, all of that is just reiterated online with anonymous, sometimes, people behind it. So if you're someone who's dealing with any of that stuff in your analog world, it's sort of like a myth that you would then go online and it would be a new life or a new space, but it's like, all of that exists what's on there. So I don't want to boil it down to people's personal stories because I don't have their consent to share it on this podcast, but to give you a generalized sense, I think that's the best way I can describe it inside. It's like anything that we deal with as a society on the day to day is reflected on the Internet, and currently now I think it's easier to see because you have trolls, you have the election fraud that we've been dealing with, and how the Internet can be this sort of aggressive space. And I mean, just go on Facebook and see if anyone's ever ... Like, within two minutes I'm sure you'll come across an argument or some kind of put down or something. And so that is all very stressful and very confusing when you've just entered onto this space that you've been told has everything you'll ever need. You don't get told how to navigate the void of yelling that everyone is doing, or the yelling into the void that is also happening. So yes, you can learn how to build your own home probably and plumbing or whatever, and there's so much tools online, but there's all these social dynamics that are heightened because we're not face to face with each other. And I would almost say that the Internet reflects like 10 times more our issues with that are happening within the analog space because there isn't that face to face accountability. You could log off when you're done.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. And so this is all really important because I think many of us are naively or just too simplistically think our goal is to get people online. And that's one of the things that your project's been working on, but you've recognized that giving people a high-quality Internet connection is not sufficient to get to the end state that we want, where people are empowered, people are having better outcomes, kids have more opportunities in life, and things like that. It's not just about the connection. It's about making sure they're able to take advantage of it.
Diana Nucera: Yeah. And create their own with it because so much of the Internet surfing is about consumption. So what economic opportunities or social opportunities are there if you're online, and what can you create online? That's something that, you know, we looked at a lot in our Detroit Future programs. Looking at broadband adoption, not receiving a connection or a skill in particular, but looking at all the possibilities of how the Internet integrates within our work, in our lives, and then working with others to really enhance what they're doing to then use the internet as an opportunity. So for instance, back in the day, it was 2011 to 2013, a lot of people built media for small businesses that were struggling in Detroit and looked at the opportunity of e-commerce as a thing, but they needed to tell their stories. So storytellers are extremely important, the media makers are really important in this ecology, in looking at all those different components of the different roles people can play within creating a healthy digital ecosystem. And yeah, like you said, a connection or the wireless engineering is just one role. But then we surely realize how important that role is because once we got to the time when it was time to upload all of the media that we created and taught people how to do, we recognized very quickly that the infrastructure within Detroit was pretty lackluster and that a lot of people did not have connections. And then it was in 2013, Bill Callahan came out with his piece on Detroit, revealing that 40 percent of Detroiters had no connection at all and 60 percent were without broadband. And at that point we said, okay, well, now none of this media matters if there's no infrastructure. And so then we switched our direction to looking at the infrastructure of the Internet, which we teamed up with the Open Technology Institute and learned a lot about mesh networking and eventually developed our own curriculum. And then the Detroit Community Technology Project was formed to specifically work on like the growth of community technology. So looking at it as fostering this movement from consumer to producer with people looking at infrastructure accountability — so looking at data, and like what do we need to be aware of, and vulnerabilities around our cities, and stuff like that — and then developing a workforce of a wireless engineers that are based in communities to build out their own infrastructure. And then, so we had a few years of really working through that curriculum and those sorts of programming. And the burst of the Equitable Internet Initiative happened in 2016, and that's when we finally actually began feeding our incubating Internet service providers, mashing it all together, where you have network engineers that are from the community building out infrastructure. You have youth building applications that can live on these networks because they have an Intranet as well as Internet connections. And so everything sort of mashes together from the beginning of 2007. And so today, thinking about, once you have an infrastructure, all the responsibilities behind it, but also all the potential of modeling the type of digital world do you want to see. So we're very, very excited about incubating these Internet service providing companies within nonprofits that are practicing net neutrality, that are practicing consumer rights, and then are practicing privacy, security, and consent with your customers. So I think that I'm most excited about this work in actually looking at the vision we had in 2007 and seeing it come to fruition in 2018. It'll be so much more than we would ever imagine because when do you get an opportunity to build the world you want to see, you know?
Christopher Mitchell: So one of the things that you're doing, that's very interesting, through the Equitable Internet Initiative is you have multiple ISPs. But maybe just give us a brief overview of what the ISPs do. Just give us an overview of how EII works.
Diana Nucera: Sure. So yeah, we're not mesh at all. I think a lot of people — I think there's been a big mesh movement, and that's wher people go to when they think of community work. And I think the scale that we were trying to work at didn't work for mesh engineering,
Christopher Mitchell: The scale — is that because you have too big of a vision and you don't have a sense of how the Mesh would scale to meet all of the need that you see your group solving?
Diana Nucera: Yeah. So from our experience, we started off with mesh and we built seven small networks using mesh technologies, and issues that we've been having with those is they're great for small scale community, like a couple blocks. But when you start to build out like hundreds of customers, at least for us we recognized that we just get bogged down because the difference between mesh system and other systems is that the routers are able to beacon back to every single router on the network. So the more you add, the more information gets distributed and that can bog down the actual information passing through the system. So we've learned that sometimes the mesh system are actually a lot slower and can't actually output the bandwidth that we're using. So we purchase wholesale, gigabit connections and I've yet to sort of find a mesh router that can push out more than a gig.
Christopher Mitchell: And so you said you were purchasing the gigabit at wholesale, and I think it's worth noting that. This is not — no one's donating you these connections, but you are in fact paying for your connectivity to the Internet.
Diana Nucera: Well, we wanted them to be donated. So we saw this as a community benefit agreement, and it would have been an amazing community benefit agreement, but with some sort of political things happening in the local election, we got sideswiped and had to turn it into a business transaction. But since then we received many donations, um, and are able to scale because of those donations. I don't think it's a lot to do with the exposure of the work, but our first purchase was like a two year long negotiation, primarily because I don't think people thought that this normal for a consumer to say, or a customer to be like, I'm going to buy wholesale and create my own network. Although this is quite normal within the world of the Internet, but like, how much do you know about the world of the Internet? I mean it's taken me years to demystify the structure, who owns what, how information flows, and it's all very complicated and confusing and not accessible to the general public. So it's been sort of our goal within this work to demystify how the Internet works and where you can fit in to do this because in purchasing this connection it really freed us up to build these Internet service providers. I think if we would've had a donation, it would have looked a little different because we were kind of forced to create a business model. I mean we very well could have worked along their nonprofit lines for this time, but because of that business transaction, we had to think about scale, we had to think about sustainability and workforce development, and all that. So I like to call it a blessing in disguise even though it was quite a painful task.
Christopher Mitchell: Sure.
Diana Nucera: But you know, I say this a lot. I think being a woman in those negotiations, and particularly a woman of color, because I don't know if it would have taken that long for someone like yourself to be able to negotiate these things. So I think part of this work, at least I'm hoping, shows, like, the different types of technologists that can exist and the different roles they could play, and that women and women of color and folks with disabilities and elders all have a seat at the table, or should, because they're very important perspectives. But I don't think we've seen that in any sort of telecom world, and I mean I'd be surprised if — I would love if you could have people call in right now, and be like, "Call in if you know how the Internet works," and I'd be surprised if you had more than five callers.
Christopher Mitchell: Relevant to that point, I think it's one of the things that you and I have talked about before, is one of the challenges you have is that you are employing people from these communities who often do not have opportunities in this sector. And you're giving them skills or they're learning skills from you on the job, and now you're finding that you're in some ways being abused, I would say, by other ISPs who are just seeing these trained people and they're able to offer them higher wages. And so you know, it's one of those things where it is like a beneficial outcome on the whole, but you're the one that's really taking the brunt of it.
Diana Nucera: Yeah, and it's silly. I mean, those are the same people that said no when we first started that now want to be a part of it and sort of poach our people. You're right. It is really interesting to look at because this never was a workforce development or pipeline type of situation because I can't imagine taking our stewards and plopping them into some kind of downtown tech company. I feel like they would crumble and they would hate it. Not because they're not capable of doing the work; it's just because the culture is so different. So when I hear people talk about a digital inclusion or, you know, diversity, it's such a problematic framework in my mind because it's sort of like, "Okay, now we're going to include you into our thing." And it's like no, our approach was to say, well that thing was not built for us so we're going to build something that is and that when we build it we're going to make sure that it allows for other people who are facing that same sort of marginalized situation to have entry points in. So I'm less interested in feeding our digital stewards into a tech world and more interested in creating the tech world in which people can come and be a part of [it]. Because I — it's just such a tricky scenario. Like, there's so much code switching that I have to do as a human in this world, in this tech world, that I would never put on anybody else. It is taxing. It is anxiety driven, and it's depressing. And so I think along the way as you build this, it's sort of like learning. It's not necessarily building a counterculture. And I'm learning from moss. That's my biggest inspiration at this point. Moss is one of the most vital plants species of this planet that's created our earth's atmosphere, and it's hundreds of millions of years old, and it's so small, and it grows where no one can or will. I think that's where we're at right now. It's like I want to build a space where people who no one will employ can have a viable future in doing work that they love for their community, not for a CEO somewhere.
Christopher Mitchell: Right, well I fully support that. I mean, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance revels in those sorts of ... in that approach of recognizing that that your goal shouldn't be necessarily just to figure out how to succeed on the terms of other people, but how your community can thrive on its own terms. And over time, you know, rather than trying to bend yourself to fit in the world for other people, let them bend themselves to fit into your world as you build power.
Diana Nucera: Yeah. That's a fact.
Christopher Mitchell: So as we're running out of time, I just want to make sure people have a sense of the nature of the actual networking that you're involved in. So maybe just run us through — you know, you lease these wholesale gigabit connections. What are some of the ways that that gets out to connect people in their homes.
Diana Nucera: The first step was getting these connections. Then there was engineering and figuring out where are they going. So we worked with three different community groups, specifically nonprofits, that were doing digital literacy work already. So we work with Faith In Action in Southwest Detroit, WNUC radio station, which is a community radio station in North End Detroit, and then Boulevard Harambee in Islandview on the east side of Detroit. Each of those either have like a fab lab or some kind of radio show, they do beat making, or in Southwest they had youth entrepreneurship and co-op development. And so they were already doing some kind of digital work and were interested in this. And so then we engineered to get it to their location, which was very interesting. Some of the terrain was really easy straight shot where you're doing point to point from downtown where our backhaul was to the North End or something, and it's just a wireless connection. And then on the west side where the buildings are a lot lower than the trees — 'cause when you're dealing with wireless, it's like dealing with radio waves, so there are obstructions and waves get absorbed. There's a lot of engineering around that. So there was all this organizing around where's a rooftop that we can go to and then get it to the other two locations that we need. So along this way, along the process to get folks started is that you have to sort of organize rooftop real estate, I like to call it. And that's where our specialty is; we teach organizing. A lot of people could just do a business transaction that rents the rooftop, but we've been working with community groups, and churches in particular because they all have steeples, and looking at this as how do we exchange, like if you would like some Internet for exchange of use of your rooftop. And threre's all this sort of organizing that happens in the neighborhoods that we support the neighborhood organizations in doing. From there, we train the trainer with our curriculum. Our curriculum is a quite robust. It is 32 lesson plans I think that are each like three hours long, so it's a good three month program. And they do all the recruiting, and we just train the trainers and support the trainers in learning. And then once they're done, within the class they actually create a map and they do all the surveying to understand where Internet is needed, how people would use it, so that they can then build a network based off of need. Once the class is done, we've hired five stewards from each group to then take those plans that the class started and then build them out. Those stewards, they've been hired for two years now. They work part-time, and their job is to sort of take the infrastructure that we've built, which is a point to point to the community org, and then we've worked with them to build a distribution network that creates a zone. And then the stewards take that connection and they bring it into the home. And it's all done wirelessly. Some of the apartment buildings, there might be some cables and stuff like that, but ... We sort of have three different layers, and the stewards are responsible for finding the customers, they're responsible for hooking them up and then dealing with any of the payments if they do that, and also setting the payments. So our scale of payment is different within each neighborhood. Some of them are $0 to $20 a month. Some of them are $0 to $50 a month. It just really depends on the economics of the neighborhood. And now, we've built out all our networks to 50 homes, and our stewards are currently expanding and working towards a business plan. I think they each want to eventually serve about 250 people for each home by 2021, and if they do, they will make a profit and be self sustainable. So I really look forward to this phase of the work, which is just seeing once you've seeded it, where will it go?
Christopher Mitchell: As I understand it, one of the other customers isn't just people in their homes but businesses for some of these neighborhood ISPs.
Diana Nucera: Definitely. So the businesses play huge role in helping us with the distribution. For instance, in Southwest there's this business called Mangonadas that everyone hangs out at and goes to, and they supported in having community events and they gave the rooftop up. So the businesses play a big role, not just as a customer, but also as an organizing partner. And also churches — like, all of the three groups that we work with are all church-based. And I realized this a couple of years down the line. I was like, "What is this? Why do we keep working with churches so much?" And then I'm like, "Oh, because they have steeples and they have people," and they very much recognize it.
Christopher Mitchell: They're great human network in addition to the steeples. So anywhere in the world you go, you'll find marginalized communities often are organizing around some kind of faith, you know. It's just that throughout history it's just been very common.
Diana Nucera: Yeah, and even in the digital age.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. Well the last thing I wanted to make a note of is to thank you because I certainly hear from groups around the country that either have studied what you're doing, have gone there and learned from you, or have studied from people who learned what they were doing by going in and visiting with you. And so, you know, this is something that over the years has really been contributing to these bottom up solutions. And I think that's terrific what a commitment that you've had to sharing your lessons. So I don't know if you have anything to say about that, but I wanted to thank you for that — that approach.
Diana Nucera: It's a little overwhelming, but it's also very inspiring to see the movement just take off — almost see people believe that they can shape infrastructure. That's something that keeps us going. And you know, our model's just one. It may or may not work in your place, but the one thing that we've learned that kind of goes across the board is this idea of ensuring that community organizing is a large part of building infrastructure, and it's not just based in tech or tech heads, and that there needs to be a diversity of people at the table to build these system. So if there's one thing folks take away from our model is that, I hope, and knowing that we can't keep repeating the same systems within a homogenous setting. But it definitely requires radical rethinking of need, accessibility — not just in getting access to something but people's bodies being able to access doing this work. Yeah, it's that elders are very capable as well as youth and that the combination of all of them combined create, like, an ecosystem or the world that you're trying to build, and that that requires patience. This work takes time and love. So if you're going to go for it, make sure you have those two things.
Christopher Mitchell: That's a very good advice to wrap up with. And I would just say that, you know, your example of the two years to negotiate the wholesale agreement is a testament to that. Because people don't always appreciate — "Okay, well it took two years. That's a long time." But you know, I'll bet that 18 [or] 20 months into that, you were thinking, "Has this been a waste of time? Is this ever gonna end? Are we going to, like, nail this down or not?" You know, uncertainty is a killer. And when people are having that uncertainty, I think it's really helpful to be able to look out and say, "Look at what these folks at the Detroit Community Technology Project have done. They got through it. We can do it too." So I think it's really important what you've done.
Diana Nucera: Thank you. I appreciate you. Thanks for having me.
Christopher Mitchell: Thanks, Diana.
Lisa Gonzalez: That was Christopher with Diana Nucera. She took some time out of her schedule to share information about the Detroit Community Technology Project. Learn more about the program at AlliedMedia.org/DCTP. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at MuniNetworks.org/BroadbandBits. Email us at podcast@MuniNetworks.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter. His handle is @CommunityNets. Follow MuniNetworks.org stories on Twitter. The handle is @MuniNetworks. Subscribe to this podcast and the other ILSR podcasts, Building Local Power and the Local Energy Rules podcast. You can access them wherever you get your podcasts. Don't miss out on our original research. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter at ILSR.org, and while you're there, take a moment to donate. Thank you to Arne Huseby for the song Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. And thanks for listening to episode 323 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.