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March, 2004


While at the family gathering in Florida, I did have time to read your excellent essay on television. Your "quandary" seems to me to be a very interesting and important one, for which of course no one else can provide the definitive solution for you. But perhaps we can enter into an exchange of thoughts on the subject and see if that bears any useful fruit. No doubt you have already done some reading on the question of TV and have thought seriously about it. It occurred to me on a second reading of your essay that you are a model for what can be accomplished by people who do not watch TV. The question of whether or not to make use of TV would I suppose depend on what you want to accomplish — what content you want to communicate. Therefore, to answer the question, I'd think it would be necessary to have a good understanding of the nature of the TV medium. Since I can't claim to possess this, any suggestions I might have would be of limited value. But based on a few books I've read and personal intuition, I think that TV, as with other media such as speech and print, by its very nature is biased toward admitting and communicating well some types of content and does not communicate other types well or at all. Furthermore, also because of the nature of the medium, TV tends to assume a certain regard for its viewers, tends to adopt a certain attitude toward its content, and, because of its popularity, is a very strong influence determining the character of public discourse in our society. A book I have read recently makes the case that TV has determined that the quintessential characteristic of that discourse today is one of (perhaps Huxleyan) entertainment, regardless of content. So, lots of interesting and thought provoking stuff here. I'll be interested in knowing your further thoughts and those of your readers on the subject. Should be good material for future magazine articles.


March, 2004

Mary Jane,

Read your article and feel that you hit the bull's eye on the TV issue. It's funny, reading your article, I realized that what's missing in TV for me is my inner voice of conversation.  It is present in verbal communication, and it is present in books.  But not TV; the visual message is overwhelming.  That's why I think TV is numbing.  But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, I contend that TV does have a role. 

It might not be our favorite medium, but it is the prevalent medium and it is powerful if used well. I don't believe that you will create the "numbing" programming we all decry. Instead, I think you will reach people where they "live" and show them how to live better. And who knows, you might even encourage someone to watch less TV. After reading your article, I'm going to stay away from TV more.

Got to study for the Master Gardener's examination!!!!

Organically yours,
Phil Jackson

April, 2004

Dear Cindylou,

Just read about the various TV opportunities for Mary Jane in the new issue. Obviously there are pros/cons either way. Personally I prefer the written word. It is far less intrusive and one has time to form a true self-opinion and not just parody what is heard on TV. But if the goal is inform as many people as possible that they can change their lives even in small ways for their better health and that of our planet, then it is a viable venture. Just think of all the people out there that would be starting their own chicken flocks, like me!

I'm looking forward to recieving the premiére tour journal. I'll write a bit about myself and my recent journey from manufacturer of rubber stamps to farmgirl! Now, just trying to figure out ways for this farmgirl to make some “scratch” and keep an eye on my new 'girls'.

Sheryl Eggleston

August, 2004

Hi Maryjane,

As far as T.V. goes, I think public television is informative. Regular commercial T.V. sometimes is very one-sided w/ what "they" (the producers) want you to portray. Also I cant wait to read your farm Life books, they will be informative & interesting. The computer DVD'S are another great idea because many people like myself, are visual learners as well as instructional. I agree with you about television as a whole, but you need to do whatever you think will help you get your message out. It is a very important message & people need to hear it. I know I was worried about you becoming so commercial, that was rather selfish of me but I love what you do & what you represent and when a person feels the same way about many things, a fear of losing that creeps in. On the east coast where I live (for now), most people are too busy making money to care about the environment unless they are making money on it somehow. People think I'm crazy for doing the crafts I do, making my foods from scratch etc. So, I think you should do whatever you need too to get out there.

Good luck!
Michel Pfaff

August, 2004

Hi Mary Jane,

My daughter sent me the copy of the plateful issue that you included in the food pack I sent her and I have just finished reading it.

TV? or not TV?

This is my input. Is TV one of your ultimate goals? Is it something that you dream of and desire in your heart? Do you have the infrastructure in your other projects to keep them running smoothly with or without you? Would you be willing to give up everything else for it?

Ultimately, only you can make the decision. If this is something you really want with all of your heart, do not allow the negative input of well wishing friends to talk you out of it. If, on the other hand, you have serious reservations about pursuing this opportunity this is possibly not the right timing or opportunity for you. Personally, I think TV is a glossy false face in most instances but there is the format of public television that is supported by interested people. People who prefer to back the kind of wholesome television for education and the arts that do not support the advertisers of things we as naturalists do not believe in.

Television does leave you discombobulated and often addicted to the things that dull your inborn sensitivities to violence and immorality. When I have had a TV in my home (a short time) I have noticed that the broadcasters often sandwich the "How to Build a potting shed" type programs between two awful programs like Maury Povich, that make it their business to air a family's dirty laundry for the whole world to see and where people are ridiculed and made into a public example. Then there are the advertisers selling the latest and greatest" what have you"s to temp you to get farther and farther into debt or encourage you to question your beauty.

There are a few really good programs on TV, like Oprah but even that pushes the envelope when it comes to wading through all the advertisements to get to the meat of the subject. Time wasters — all of them.

Give me 15 to 60 minutes of quality programming without all the advertisements on a DVD or in a well illustrated how to do it book or a workshop and you will educate people like me. I will buy it, use it, share it and assist my friends to do it — education and assistance all in one. I have already been doing just that this summer. I built a chicken coop out of straw bales and am building chicken tractors because of a book on the subject. I have taken 2 cobb building workshops this summer because my friend Chris Llewellen of Serendipity farm here in Quilcene gave a workshop on the subject and needed help to build a kitchen facility for her summer interns. I plan to build my home from cobb and straw bales over the next few years.

If you decide to do “How to DVDs” I would love to be involved in your “how to” reupholster a couch series. I have done reupholstering in my home for a living off and on for 33 years. I learned while attending Spokane Falls community college after I got married, as a way to fix up the cast off furniture that I was living with and as a way to earn extra income for food and tuition. I am really picky now about what I will tackle but love the quality of old furniture bones and structure. I am also well trained (self taught) in the art of creating beautiful living spaces with faux painting techniques. I'll send some photos for you. I suppose, like you, there is not much that I have not taught myself. Mostly I use books for my starting points and then move on to video or classroom experience or just simply learn by trial and error. Nothing better for the spirit than realizing you have accomplished something you dreamed about but had no earthly idea where to start.

When we were raising our children without TV every one thought we were crazy but they did not hesitate to come over when we were hosting a movie night! Our library had a wonderful movie check out system where after taking some training courses to get certified on their equipment we could check out full-length feature films with a projector and screen. We saw some wonderful movies and had some real family and friend nights. What fun we had.

For what it is worth,
Eileen Widman


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