Dirk Koning: A Life Beautifully Lived

Dirk Koning was the founding director (1981) of the Community Media Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The CMC is a national model for integrated radio, television and Internet applications for community development purposes. Koning edited the national magazine, "Community Media Review" and was President of the Washington D.C. based Alliance for Communications Democracy. More than all of this, he transformed lives and through his ideas communities. He left us on February 10, 2005.

My Photo
Location: Everywhere, The World

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Let us begin . . .

A visionary, friend, creator, and great human is gone. Let us share how one person can truly make a difference.


Blogger Mike Weisman said...

Dirk was one of my most cherished mentors and friends. He helped me to understand the breadth and wonder of human communications in a way I hadn't before. He helped introduce me the idea of 'community media,' and he supported me in my own efforts to, really, just take his message and spread it around. I am truly an apostle of Dirk, and always will be.
At this critical time, it is so terribly sad for our nation to have lost such a gracious and warm leader and friend. My personal condolences to Dirk's beloved family, and all his colleagues at GRCMC. My prayers are with you, and our support will always be there for you in Dirk's memory.

Mike Weisman
Reclaim the Media, Seattle

4:03 PM  
Blogger Riedel Communications said...

If There Ever Was A Man

If ever there was a man like Dirk Koning, I challenge you to tell me. Tall in stature, soft in voice, brain constantly afire.

There is a river of tears across this country right now because Dirk has passed from us. Some people are just irreplaceable. Some people are just so special that you know you will miss them for your entire life.

They say your work is your prayer. If that is true, then Dirk was constantly praying.

He had various visions about what “community media” should be. It was, of course, the video. It was a community radio station. It was figuring out a way to take these tools out to neighborhoods that he knew would never walk into the access center. “Mollie” the mobile van unit that could supply neighborhoods with computers, cameras and instant drops to send back the product to Grand Rapids Community Media Center. Then, he bought a theatre. An old abandoned theatre, where they could hot-wire the facility, do streaming, show live performances, maybe make a little money for the community media center by leasing it out for business conferences.

Dirk talked to me about “bit-torrent,” and I was lost. Got the concept, just not the mechanics. “Push technology,” he said. “Okay,” said I.

Dirk graciously agreed to be part of my ambitious “Team.” In my new life as entrepreneur, I had written him into three proposals. I was so excited that he said “yes,” and I was so excited about what a team we would make.

I understand that people are emailing from far away locations, internationally, to inquire about Dirk’s death. Only appropriate since he traveled so far and wide and did inspire so many people here in this country and abroad. Dirk went to South Korea, long before I ever did, and gave the audience there a plan for at least a minimal involvement for “viewer participation programming.” I can tell you now, that every single international contact I ever had, whether through visiting the country or having the State Department arrange a visit to my office, included a question of whether or not I knew Dirk Koning.

Every once in a blue moon, God gives you a pretty good specimen of what human beings should be. I am not trying to make Dirk more than the flesh and blood man than he was, he certainly had his foibles, we all do. But Dirk was and will always be “special.” So much kindness, so much ability to rise above the nonsense, a fierce defender of his ideals, always on top of what was emerging, a good and loyal friend.

I think we had finally evolved in our dealings that we could call ourselves “buddies.” And I was thrilled to be at that point.

My heart breaks for his family. His wife Ginger, his son Sean and his daughter Kelly. May comfort find you, may time heal this horrific wound. Our thoughts, our hearts, our minds and prayers are with you.

Dirk Koning. What more can I say?

If ever there was a man like Dirk Koning, I challenge you to tell me.

posted by Bunnie Riedel at 7:19 p.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Ann Suter said...

Dirk's Legacies
No one meeting Dirk could possibly forget him. Moreover, spending any time talking or listening to Dirk left an indelible imprint on a vision of a future. One can only work harder to sustain and build on Dirk's dreams of a future. What an incredible legacy

4:34 PM  
Blogger Stephen Snow said...

Dirk never lost sight of that most important thing: the person he was talking to in the moment. He held a vision in his mind of a kinder, greater place where all people could be heard and, perhaps, listened to.

He spoke with authority but not arrogance. He did not brag or pretend or play petty politics or manipulate people.

He did things that expressed his belief in people and in their right to have their own voice, a right many of us take for granted while we grandly proclaim it for others.

I will miss his insight and intelligence, but more I will miss his humanness, his openness and will miss even more that I did not know him better.

Steve Snow

5:55 PM  
Blogger Phil Shapiro said...

I never met Dirk Koning in person, but his spirit was so transcendent I felt its force hundreds of miles away. Dirk would send me an email from time to time and I would cherish every word he said. He understood things so much better than many of us -- at a deeper and more meaningful level.

I sometimes stopped by to visit the Grand Rapids Community Media Center web site just to get a boost of energy and inspiration from Dirk's life force.

Sometimes looking at this site made me feel as if I was looking into the future, a future where so many more people were included in civic life.

Thanks, Dirk. You continue teaching us with your presence.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Puget Sound Access said...

From my first days in access in the Midwest 15 years ago I knew of Dirk Koning. He was the larger than life rock star of access that our group would get glimpses of at ACM conferences.

He made a lasting impression when I was hired to help build a facility now known as Puget Sound Access in Washington. There's a binder in our reception area that has pictures of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center. The pictures were my inspiration and I used them to inspire others during the build. Very often I will point folks to http://www.grcmc.org/ as an example of what we can someday become for our community. I only spoke to Dirk a couple times. I listened to him as often as I could, it seemed more important to me.

I won't be eloquent with my words here I'm sure. There are too many people we need to learn from and listen to leaving us these days. Too many grand examples of who we can be in life that we just don't have enough time with.

My prayers are with Dirk’s family & friends and all of those feeling the massive jolt of this loss.

- Keri

Keri Stokstad
Executive Director, Puget Sound Access

7:10 PM  
Blogger Nettrice said...

I was nearing a crossroads in my career when Dirk called and asked me to be a guest-co-editor of the CMR (summer '04). His support was greatly appreciated and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to work with Dirk on the summer issue. I had other opportunities to collaborate with him at both the national CTCNet and ACM conferences in 2004.

When I remember Dirk I think of his ability to understand and see beyond the community media & technology...to the people. He was such an inspiration to me. I will always remember his energy, his vision and dedication. This is what he has left us...to carry on and move forward with the work.

I offer my sincere condolences to Dirk's loved ones. He will be sorely missed...

Kindest Regards,

Nettrice R. Gaskins
UMass Boston/CPCS &
Mass College of Art

10:27 PM  
Blogger Arttext Press Agency said...

It was in the winter of 1992; Albertville, France. The Olympics just were finished and the Video-Olympics ha just begun. I was there with a delegation of the Federation of Dutch Local Broadcasters (OLON). My good friend Nico van Eijk took me to a hotel room where he wanted me to meet some people from the Alliance For Community Media.
And there I met this huge bearded man. Half an hour later this french wooden chair gave up and collapsed under him. He was a man with a great first impression!
One of the following days we left the conference for what is was and went skiing. In the shop where we had to hire skiing boots it turned out that even the largest French boots were to delicate for Dirk's feet. We could only resolve the matter by putting pantyhoses on his feet instead of socks.
Many, many conferences all over the world and personal family meetings later, he had become a dear and personal friend, he was the ringbearer at my wedding in 2004. No safer place to store them!
As many people on the Alliance Listserv,the DDN listserv, CTCNet and more will commemorate his merits in the community media world, I want to to keep it up clos and personal.Because I feel powerless, devastated and so sad.
Here we have a good man, with a warm heart, a proud husband and father (we received every holiday an account of the achievements of his wife Ginny, and Sean and Kelly, his son and daughter).
I've never seen him mad, angry or even upset. Such a large body, and so much patience and wisdom in it. I miss him more then I can put into words. And I do realize how fortunate we all are to be able to weep and mourn already, because Ginny, Sean and Kelly will be too shocked right now to really feel the loss. The still have to go there were we are already. And I do wish we will be there for them when that horrible emptiness arrives.

I will close this testimony with a remarkable observation my darling wife Veronica just made when I got angry over the loss of good huamn beings too early.
She said that they leave us because they have deserved their place in a better world.
I hope to see you there buddy!

Ruud de Bruin, OLON, Dutch Federation of Local Broadcasters

11:42 PM  
Blogger Paul Resnick said...

A great loss.

Dirk had a rare combination of grand vision that he could articulate eloquently, and a bias for action. He told the world where we needed to go, and he showed us how to start on the path.

Dirk came to talk with students in our Community Information Corps a few years ago and made quite an impression, both with tales of GRCMC and an appeal to think of communication as a basic human right.

It inspires me to know that a person like Dirk existed, even if he can no longer walk among us. You are gone, Dirk, but will not soon be forgotten.

Paul Resnick
University of Michigan
School of Information

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Nancy Brigham said...

I only had the pleasure of being around Dirk a few times, but you couldn't help but be inspired by what he was accomplishing and his commitment. It made my life just a little bit better knowing he was there and that we had the potential of working together in the future.

I hope his work will not die with him. That's the best testimony we could give him.

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Chuck Sherwood said...

As we awoke today only to discover the news of Dirk's passing, we should all be aware that our grief from this tragic loss and our condolences to his wife Ginger,and their son Sean and daughter Kelly, are being shared by the larger community that Dirk operated within from the ACM to NATOA to NAMAC to the Media Activists to CTCNet as well as International Community Media and Technology folks. Dirk's foot print was Local and Global. He will be missed by all of us who shared his vision and his need to activate that vision for true media democracy and justice.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Sadanori said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Dirk Koning in person, when he came to visit our school. I even had a bigger pleasure in having beer with him after the class, and yet even bigger pleasure in sitting next to him, and talking to him about my dreams.

His own projects, methods, and his personal input to my blabbing about my dreams, inspired me, and encouraged me so much, and gave me some realistic framework of strategy for the realization of the dream.

I am not even close to realize my dreams, that I talked to him about that day. But, time and again, I recall the moments, and I am constantly encouraged and inspired by him.

He will keep encouraging me, and inspiring me, even if he is not physically with us.

Warm thoughts to all.

Sadanori Horiguchi
School of Information
University of Michigan

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a loss to the world of creativity. We in Asheville were great admirers of Dirk and benefitied greatly from his wise counsel which will be sorely missed.

Mack Pearsall, Asheville, NC

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Tim Goodwin said...

Dear Friends...

From his family and all of us in community media in Grand Rapids, thank you
for the outpouring of thoughts and remembrances of Dirk. It is truly a
remarkable response for a remarkable man. They are being shared with family
and staff.

Services for Dirk will be held Monday, February 14, 11:00 a.m., at St. James
Catholic Church, 733 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids, next door to the Grand
Rapids Community Media Center. A cake and coffee reception at the church
will follow. The Center will be closed for normal business that day, but
open to get together following services.

Visitations will be at Eggebeen-Gerst-O'Brien Funeral home, 3980 Cascade Rd.
SE, Grand Rapids on Saturday from 7-9 p.m. and Sunday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that those wishing to remember Dirk with a memorial contribution make them to the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, 711 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 or to the Koning Family Educational Trust Fund at any Huntington Bank location.

May peace be with you all...Tim
Tim Goodwin, Managing Editor
Community Media Review
7 Burr Oak Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49505-6280
616.447.2262 phone/fax

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Hansell said...

Communtiy Media Review: Tribute to Dirk KoningDirk Koning was an internationally recognized leader in the field of community media & public access television; he was a strong and hopeful voice for communications democracy, free speech, social justice and peace among nations; and he was admired, respected and loved by many people across the planet.

Dirk Koning died unexpectedly on Feruary 10, 2005 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He was 48 years old and left behind a wife, Ginger and two children, Sean and Kelly.

Among the many hats he wore so well, Dirk served as the Chair of the Editorial Review Board of the Community Media Review, the national quarterly magazine of the Alliance for Community Media upon which this online version of the magazine (communitymediareview.org) is based.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Jeremy Wolford-VISTA ALUMNI said...

I learned of Dirk Koning from researching about public access stations back when i worked for Appalachian Media Access Center. I first got to meet this larger than life man in Lancing Michigan to discuss CTC's and Community Media. I was blown away by his size, but he was quite down to earth and easy to talk with. He really did the work of 5 people for CTC's and Community Media. When I showed up at Seattle for the CTCnet conference I scoped out what sessions he was involved in and knew they would be good. Sure enough they were. He interacted with the participants on an eye to eye level and gave any information he had.

You could have been a novice w/ the ideas of community and technology or a goverment official and he'd treat everyone the same. This man will greatly be missed.

and my condolences to this Family, friends, and co-workers

8:55 AM  
Blogger Terry Duenas said...

On behalf of Mass Access, let me express the profound sadness and grief we
all feel on loss of Dirk. To say he was a major force as a colleague,
visionary and spokesperson for the mission of access, free speech and human
rights doesn't begin to do him justice. We will miss his intellect,
dedication and leadership on a professional level and his warmth, compassion
and humor on a personal level. He was a friend, leader and mentor to all of
us in the access movement. Here's to you, big guy.. you left us way too

Terry Duenas
Executive Director
Cape Cod Community Media Center

Mass Access
Massachusetts Chapter, Alliance of Community Media

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Chester said...

Dirk was an inspiration to me. His dedication, talent and sensitivity were just a few parts of his unique nature. He will also very kind. Dirk helped shine a powerful light on what media could do for the community and the public interest. Dirk's presence will be with me, always. I too express my condolences to his family and immediate colleagues.

Jeff Chester, Takoma Park, MD

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Judy Skeie-Voss said...

It’s amazing how such a big man, in so many ways, would never make you feel little. I was so in awe of him and so looked forward to sharing in his thoughts, his heartwarming smile and his sense of humor. I am glad that we had a chance to share some good laughs at the NATOA Conference in San Francisco last fall. It is sad that others will not have the opportunity to come to know this incredible man the way so many have. To Dirk’s family – I know how special you must be because he spoke so fondly of you. Your loss is so great to bare, my heart and prayers go out to you. To Dirk – I guess I’ll just have to wait until we meet in heaven to harass you – watch your back buddy and thanks for the memories!

Judy Skeie-Voss
On Location TV19, White Bear Lake, MN

12:38 PM  
Blogger Amy Borgstrom said...

What I remember the most when I think of Dirk was his capacity to focus utterly and listen so well. I remember being at lots of conferences where, after his presentation, there would be a long line of people waiting to speak to him. And each of us received the benefit of that somehow fiercely gentle and absolutely accepting attention. More than anyone I know in the field, he figured out how to make community technology and media sustainable, and profoundly joyful at the same time. He was a boundary spanner, a brilliant theorist, a tireless activist, endlessly articulate. He had the gift of making the impossibly complex and difficult seem simple and straighforward. He helped so many of us, in his seemingly effortless way, see how that our work makes a difference. I too wish I had known him much longer and much better.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous George C. Stoney said...

Our “mighty oak” has fallen.  Now we know that we depended too much on his physical strength as well as his wise counsel.  He humanized our bureaucracy, he demystified our technology, he made our meetings fun as well as productive.

    Looking back on the 30-odd years of my acquaintance with Dirk is like reviewing the history of Public Access at its most idealistic.  What he has done at Grand Rapids stands as a practical realization of the concepts to which many of us have also devoted ourselves, with far less effect.

    Increasingly in the past few years Dirk has been our spokesperson for Access across the globe.  Now that he is gone there are people all over the world who share my need to touch hands.  For we have loved the man, yes LOVED THE MAN, as well as admired and respected him.

    Every mighty oak that is felled leaves a hole in the sky.  One can only hope that there are enough seedlings of his strain to fill his place eventually.  But we know that will take a long time.

George C. Stoney

1:18 PM  
Blogger Sue Sende Cole said...

Public access television in Austin, Texas, has been influenced by Dirk. His style was unique, and he was so friendly to everyone, even those he didn't know well. There was a halo around him. Today, public access producers applied with the state of Texas to take back the name of Austin Community Television and form their own nonprofit. I believe that Dirk is helping us push forward to protect and preserve true community access to media. Thanks, Dirk.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Sue Sende Cole said...

P.S. What would Dirk say to a non-profit that has a membership class (like a co-op)?

3:55 PM  
Blogger Russ Hannagan said...

I had the honor of attending a workshop that Dirk was part of at an Alliance Conference. I will never forget how amazed I was as I sat there and listened to him speak. He is one of the most intelligent, articulate brilliant minds of the Alliance. I don't even want to think of him in any other way.

I have worked with people that Dirk has taught and I have realized that his skills have been passed on to another generation. Thankfully, Dirk will always be with us.

God Bless.


6:41 PM  
Blogger Deborah Vinsel said...

I cannot begin to express in words the sense of loss I feel with the passing of my friend and mentor.

Meeting Dirk some 22 years ago at an Alliance for Community Media (then NFLCP) conference was perhaps one of the most fortunate events in my life. That weekend was the first of many remarkable times spent soaking up that which he shared most effortlessly...his passion for using media to build community, his vision of a peaceful world, his warm smile, his easy laugh and an unabashed
appreciation for good beer. He was one of three very special people in my life who I credit with helping me to find the path I follow today as a community media advocate and practitioner. I will be ever thankful for his influence and friendship.

Dirk's presense was commanding, his wisdom ageless, and his impact on the people who loved him was unforgettable.

My heart breaks for his beautiful family, his devoted staff, and the community of the world in which he moved so beautifully.

We will all miss him.

Deborah Vinsel
Thurston Community Television
Olympia WA

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Gena (Koning) Bloemendaal said...

I'm Dirk's niece. He just celebrated my wedding with me in September, a day I'll never forget. I had written him a belated birthday letter but it didn't reach him in time. Here is an excerpt, in his honor, from my thoughts the day I learned he had gone...

February 10, 2005

Finally received your e-mail today, forwarded from a family member. You stated you would be back on February 14th. Seems a bit ironic to me that on a day the world celebrates life and love, a day festooned with red and pink hearts, the real-life heart of one we all admire and love so dear, would lie cold and still.

And yet, I don’t believe your heart has really left us at all. In fact, you have left behind a legacy that is undying. We feel your heartbeat pulsating through the webbed veins of electronic media, feel it coursing through the airwaves that bring us radio and television…tangible waves, felt, though unseen. Your heart and your legacy beat steady and strong across the many miles you traveled—spanning the continents, “building community through media” not just in Grand Rapids, but in a much larger, global arena. Through your efforts you brought the world closer together, preaching peace through open-mindedness, a global tie that can only be built through the key element of human connectedness…communication.

I just want you to know that whatever I try to communicate to this world from this point forward will be done solely in your honor as we all seek to carry on your legacy, making sure every voice has the opportunity to be heard, and truly “building community through media.”

We love you…peace, goodbye.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Don Samuelson said...

I first met Dirk when we were prepaing for a panel of CTCNet/AFCN in Austin, Texas related to the potential for the interconnection of CTCs, CNs and CMs. Preparing for that panel led me to his GRCMC web site, and the diverse communications systems that had been created. Impressive indeed. My conclusion was that I should use my panel time to simply ask him questions - everyone would be better off. Indeed we wee.

That led to two visits to GR to visit the entire operation, numerous short visits at events over the past three years, and the "plan" to adapt the GRCMC initiatives to appropriate situations in Chicago and Illinois.

I share the moving tributes made with feeling and grace by the previous commentators. All true. One additional lesson Dirk might want to share with us - don't assume unlimited time, and the opportunity to do things later. Particularly with people for whom there are sentiments like those expressed for Dirk. Dirk has been a profounce influence on many. That has to be a very good thing.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Pat Aufderheide said...

Dirk was an extraordinary person, not least because he kept making it seem like the extraordinary dream of community media was an entirely ordinary and reasonable and possible thing. He was an embodiment of our hopes. We all of us will sadly miss him, and we carry his example with us.
Pat Aufderheide
Center for Social Media, American University, Washington DC

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Helen Lehman said...

Lunch with Dirk was always a treat. A giant in the world of community media, he was off the charts as a friend. He lived "in the moment" and we always took time for talking about his treasured children, who are so dear to him. As we consumed garlic at Big O's, it always seemed so amazing to know such a visionary, peace-filled man.

My heart goes out to Ginger, Shaun and Kelly. I watched him as a daddy and know that he was gifted in that department as well.

Language limits my ability to celebrate and yes, grieve, this incredible man, this passionate friend.

As we move forward to finish fund raising for the incarnation of the Wealthy Street Theatre, I'll do so with great memories of my special friend.

You made the world a better place, Dirk. I am blessed to have called you "friend." I take comfort in the knowledge that you and Diane Casey are joining one another to tip a few. I know you will continue to inspire us to to help everyone have a voice. Power to the People!

     "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."
Margaret Mead

Thank you for changing the world, my friend. Shalom.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Michael Gurstein said...

Dirk was a giant of a man in all respects--a friend and an inspiration.

The current issue of the Journal of Community Informatics whose theme appropriately will be "Sustainability" is dedicated to his memory and his vision. http://ci-journal.net

Michael Gurstein
Foundation Chair: The Community Informatics Research Network

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Sean McLaughlin said...

On behalf of Akaku: Maui Community Television -  
Hawaii owes a debt of gratitude to Dirk for his visits to Hawaii and his constant encouragement to seek the highest and best path for community access to media. 
Each time Dirk came to Hawaii he made substantial contributions of vision and spirit to the PEG access movement here. At a critical time some years back, he came over to brief our Legislature and present his developing model of community media centers for the multi-media broadband future.  
And, we managed to work in some snorkeling, whale watching and a walk up on Mt. Haleakala, too!  
Dirk inspired all of us to reach higher and farther. After a strategic planning session with Akaku's board of directors back in our early days, Akaku in particular embraced those calls with broad-based community media (including Internet and broadcasting) services to "build community." 
To those who support Dirk's work, we pledge ourselves to his cause and promise to repay that debt in kind. 
Sean McLaughlin 
CEO & President 
Akaku: Maui Community TV 
e: sean@akaku.org

1:52 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I've never heard of Mr. Koning, but the memorial is very nice. I'm always saddened to learn about the loss of human life.

I'm sorry, everyone, for your loss.


2:13 PM  
Anonymous Gennah Copen & Paul Lind said...

Gennah and I were very shocked and saddened when we heard the news of Dirk's passing.

We have both known Dirk for many years and have many memories of his passion, advice, wonderful stories that shed a human light on technology. I have had the pleasure to present with Dirk at several workshop conferences and know that he truly believed that Community Media could and did make a difference in the World.

It is hard to think of someone so big, in so many wonderful ways, to be gone so early. He made his presence felt wherever he went and his passion, knowledge, humor and spirit will be missed.

Our deepest sympathies go out to his friends and colleagues at Grand Rapids Community Media Center, all of us - his friends and acquaintances inside and outside the Alliance and around the world and most especially to Dirk's wife, children and family.

Paul Lind & Gennah Copen
Copen and Lind Cable/Access Consultants

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Kary Love said...

Dirk Konig was a champion of true democracy, who believed that knowledge and information was power, and that the hope for the future of all people was advanced by access to information, communication and community. Dirk could have been a successful political figure, with his warmth, charisma, humor and intelligence, or a national TV journalist, but he chose to dedicate his life to bringing power to the people all over the world, because he loved people, fully, completely and without prejudice or preference. Dirk selflessly, graciously and tirelessly sacrificed to advance the rights of the "little guy" against the system, to free access to information, free speech and self-determination against the seemingly overwhelming forces of the status quo entrenched in corporations and government power centers. With a wry sense of humor and a gentle touch that was so incongruent with his huge physical presence, Dirk was a master at beating the corporate suits and government bureaucrats at their own game.
Dirk was a beautiful writer who could persuade with compelling logic and fierce, unyielding commitment to truth, freedom and justice for all. Dirk was a beautiful human being whose life was a celebration of all that makes being human delicious, joyous, wonderful and triumphant. Dirk would work hard all day against overwhelming odds to bring the opportunity for freedom to his neighbors and his community, and then sing and dance all night to celebrate the glory of being alive, and the chance to advance the cause of freedom. Dirk's commitment was contagious, his spirit seemingly invincible. Many a time I despaired of erosions of the Bill of Rights, only to talk to Dirk, to become re-enchanted by the struggle for liberty. Dirk's unwavering faith in the future of freedom was inspiring, and I could draw upon his spirit to resurrect my own flagging hopes even in the darkest hours. Dirk was a guiding light, a leader without pretense or self-importance, a gracious friend and host, an intelligent defender of liberty, and a man who filled a room with humor, warmth and a love of life.
I was in Boston, the birthplace of American freedom, when I received this tragic news. I take solace from that--Dirk Konig carried on a proud tradition--citizen patriot, rebel for democracy, fierce defender of the fundamental human right of self-determination--he would have been shoulder to shoulder with those common men who started the American revolution in Boston. Dirk certainly carried those principles forward in his life and work.
I believe Dirk would not want us who knew him to mourn--he is the kind of great soul who has clearly moved to a better plane--but would challenge us to carry on his legacy, to continue the struggle for freedom for all, for community, for humanity. That is Dirk's legacy, and I believe it was his certainty that freedom and community would ultimately triumph, and bring peace and justice to the people and the world he loved so well, that gave him the depth of humor and good will he was able to spread widely to all who knew him. A great soul has left this plane of existence, I am thankful for having had the opportunity to benefit from his guidance, advice, laughter and joy. Dirk, wherever, you are, Thank you.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Neidert said...

Being active in both ACM and NATOA for nearly 20 years, I had many chances to hear Dirk speak, telling us to fight the good fight and to make sure the media stayed accessible to the people. I also had many occasions to chat with him informally, all over the country as we all interacted and shared our visions of what great opportunities were available through the media.
Without dragging out our story, the City of Brunswick fought to reclaim our public access channel from endless years of negotiation with the cable operator all the way through the federal court system. Happily, we prevailed. At the very next ACM National Conference, we were honored with the George Stoney award for our efforts. We were graciously congratulated by our colleagues from all over the nation. But out of the dozens, perhaps hundreds of congratulatory remarks I received, one stands out most in my mind. Dirk, in his towering, yet timid manner simply said, "Thank you." Oh sure, more words followed, but at the end of the day, after nearly 7 years of persistance, those two words helped me to realize that what we did, in our little community, actually could have an impact outside our municipal boundaries.
It's obvious by reading the comments on this page, that we were all touched by this kind, and amazing man. The most appropriate gesture we can make in our thoughts, in a toast, or in a prayer for Dirk, are those same two little words....."Thank You!"

Jeffrey Neidert
Brunswick Area Television

6:42 PM  
Anonymous David Keyes said...

Dirk's passing is incredibly sad and at the same time a powerful reminder to me and us to recommit to what Dirk brought to this life and what he continues to inspire...to the joy possible in each day...to the potential in each of us to connect with others locally and across the globe...to what we can do with these bizarre electronic tools...to the humor that lets us joke while we achieve...to the community we can bring together...to the bureaucracies we can weave with straghtforward messages and finess...to the visions we can share and to the boundless accomplishments we can make happen.

I've known Dirk for somewhere above 20 years and had the honor to work with him through ACM/NFLCP, CTCNet and elsewhere and to have a bit of play with him through the years.

Oh yeah, Dirk was a big guy. In body, inspiration and historically in what he's done for the community media movement. He's helped drive the grassroots effort forward, promoted national and local policy in support of community media and helped demonstrate that the convergence of computers, video, audio. and journalism tools are real. Dirk was always spot on in keeping the goals of empowerment, community building, economic development and education on top of the technology.

My condolences to the family he was always most proud of, his GRCMC family and his extended family in the movement.

Dirk , Here's wishing you a good road trip and peace until we meet at the next stop..

- David Keyes

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Anonymous Celeste White said...

Dirk Koning was the reason I stuck it out for so long in community media in my home town of Lafayette, Louisiana. His utter understanding of the underpinnings and necessary evolution of community media everywhere was an inspiration for years. I only met him once and followed his work in the access community faithfully thereafter, begging off an idea or picture (or twenty) now and then - always with his gracious welcome to do so.

I discovered his passing belatedly and am incredibly saddened by the news. God bless Dirk's family, his work and the dignity he brought to our haphazzard little cause.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its Taken me three years to say this, Dirk broke our hearts here at the Community Media Center. He had a great big presence but allowed us all to be our great big selves too. We are all still sad about losing Dirk but also glad to have known him.

Teresa Dawkins
Community Media Center

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am treading in the wake of this man more than four years after his passing and just now realizing how much he has affected this world.

I wish I could have known Dirk. I feel a need to be a better more productive person just knowing now, his existence.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Ellison said...

Today, I came across a large coin with an image of Thomas Jefferson, and a quote, "Information is the currency of democracy." After a few moments of reflection I realized this was the coin given to me some years ago by Dirk Koning, who was leading a workshop on community engagement and public media, held at a national conference in Washington DC.

I was so impressed, even inspired, to meet such a passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable individual, whose life was devoted to media, democracy, and ultimately, the welfare of humanity.

Although I don’t remember the words, I do remember the meaning of what he said, and how that has influenced me to be ever vigilant in shepherding my own passion to cultivate a global solutions ecology; where media and communications combine to support individual and social triumphs, through an ever enriching cycle of sharing innovative and creative solutions to social problems.

Such a brief encounter, yet such a lasting impression. I’m truly grateful to have encountered Dirk Koning, a hero of the ages.

Ellison Horne, Founder
Celebrating Solutions! A Global Solutions Ecology

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