Dirk Koning
Home ] In This Issue ] Search the Review ] National ] Libraries ] States and Local ] Rural ] New Directions ]

Terry  Grunwald
Cary Williams
Lauren-Glenn Davitian
Seongcheol Kim
Dirk Koning
Sue Buske
Autumn Labbe-Renault
Pierre Clark
Fred I. Williams
Kara Harris


The Grand Rapids, MI, Community Media Center 25 Year Plan Dirk Koning is the Executive Director of the Grand Rapids CMC and Chair of the Editorial Board of the Community Media Review, the official publication of the Alliance for Community Media.
Despite Kim and Muth's survey findings of localities in Michigan that little local planning is going on, the Grand Rapids Community Media Center is out front in program development and policy planning for the future as this edited version of their draft 25 year plan indicates. This is followed by the text of a brochure distributed throughout the city of Cambridge, MA for a series of workshops held in May; it reflects the broad range of issues, policy, education, and organizing involved in the franchising/refranchising process.
28.jpeg (61224 bytes)
At the July '98 ACM Conference in Portland, OR, Dirk Koning (left) with Bob Devine, long-time media activist and President of Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH.
Dirk Koning

The Grand Rapids Community Media Center (CMC) is founded on the principle that access to the tools of information creation and dissemination is a fundamental human right and that governance of the content of that information is not within our purview ethically or legally due to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

We honor the original meaning of the words "community" and "communication" meaning "to share." We will share information through instruction. We will share creation through acquiring information tools and providing them at a low cost to citizens. We will share access to information distribution channels via any and all means appropriate including bells and optical fiber.

Our mission is "To Build Community Through Media."

Community Education -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to share knowledge with the public regarding media creation, media tools and media dissemination. We will continue to provide face-to-face as well as on-line training opportunities. We will continue to share information about the "why" of media as well as the "how to." Media Literacy will become increasingly important over the next 25 years as corporate consolidation will create companies far larger than governments with no implied or stated desire to operate of, for, or by the people.

Tools -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to share media equipment, hardware, and software with the public. Our hope is that costs will continue to decline and quality improve so that we can consolidate expensive information tools in easily accessible locations for public access. From megaphones to optical data lines, we will be the medium between the public's need to share information and the need to gather information. Additionally we anticipate a need for open bandwidth access and community routing centers to accommodate versatile switching systems.

Transmission -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to share modes of information transmission with the public. Every possible option of transmission should be exploited for citizen use. We recommend the 5% rule. In order for commercial communication companies to use our valuable public rights of way, we the people require access to 5% of available bandwidth and 5% of gross revenues to accommodate citizen access to that bandwidth. In addition we must preserve the public access gains acquired through bandwidth set asides for public radio, television, ham radio, cable access television, and the Internet. Here, too, the First Amendment must apply. The CMC must remain content neutral in information transmission. Where possible, we must just route bits, bytes, pixels and words with no implied editorial control.

Archives -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to store local media for public access and retrieval. Any culture that doesn't respect and honor its past is likely to decline. Any culture that doesn't pay attention to the mistakes of history is likely to repeat them. The CMC will attempt to catalog and store significant local voice, video, and data media in a fashion to allow easy access and retrieval by the community we serve. Ideally we can convert information into a digital realm and then store it in a permanent limited access fashion and a permanent public access fashion. This duplication of storage will allow for redundant long term survival of local media materials.

Public Policy -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to communicate with local, state and federal officials regarding the importance of community communication in a capitalist society. Our task is to be ever vigilant in light of a national approach to treat information as a commodity similar to ice cream. We feel the laissez faire approach to managing the country's information systems is not in the best interest of society at large. Market forces, when applied to information technology, favor size over substance and power over public service. If, as Jefferson states, "Information is the currency of democracy," we want to create public access mints where citizens can generate currency at will regardless of cost or content.

International Relations -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to reach out to global citizens to share information training, tools, and transmission options. Many governments on Earth despise the notion of citizen access to media for the simple reason that it may erode their control and power. "The only justifiable purpose for political institutions is to assure the unhindered development of the individual," Albert Einstein said. We intend to work with local and global citizens to insure their unhindered development via community communication. Additionally we intend to profile the media works of global citizens in all venues to build an appreciation for other cultures.

Organizational Structure -- Over the next 25 years we anticipate the ongoing need to insure a governance model that blends form and function to accomplish our mission. We need to be as flexible as required to adapt to the environmental changes around us while preserving our principles in action. Where possible we will provide autonomy to insure the unhindered development of those involved while they provide for the development of the CMC as a whole. Where possible checks and balances will be created to insure the perpetuation of immediate actions and long term developments. Under all circumstances the CMC will be operated of, for, and by the People.