When I was my kids’ age (5 and 7), every child had goals. Highest among them was being on TV. One time my sister and I got on “Wonderama,” a show where kids were picked out of a large audience to be contestants in a quasi game-show. I wasn’t chosen, but I sure relished the one glimpse of my madly waving arms in an ecstatically joyful sea of madly waving arms.
My kids have a different supreme life-achievement: They’d like to be well-behaved enough for their parents to buy a TV. We killed our boob tube when our eldest was about a year old. Sure, the misses misses Leno, and I miss Letterman, but we have loved almost every minute of not having an idiot box in our face, incessantly tempting us with mundane shows, faux news, and ads. This isn’t to say that our children never “watch.” Thanks to the prevalence of computers in modern life, the kids probably get more than their fair (or healthy) share of screen-viewing time, but at least it takes more effort to get a video going than to push a button on a clicker. At least they have to maneuver through a few hoops for something special that they have chosen instead of immediately slugging through the endless process of channel surfing through 98%-pure garbage.
In order to comprehend how the new media has changed the world, one need not look past our family’s plans for today. We’re going to our close friends’ house (Joe and Julya Sembrat’s) to watch some TV, and all 8 (the four of us plus the Sembrats have two kids, too) of us will be on the same show. Called “Bang for Your Buck,” it airs today on the Home and Garden Channel at 3:30pm Eastern and Pacific Time, which I take to mean 1:30pm Mountain. With so many screens everywhere in this new-media era, I think I’m less excited about seeing myself on TV than my children will be excited to get to watch an actual TV.
The concept behind this episode of “Bang for Your Buck” is this. Three Santa Fe couples are chosen to brag on international television about their landscapes. Then, two critics come in and critique each property. Next, each couple is filmed watching (and reacting to) a short version of “the talent’s” criticism. Finally, the critics choose which couple got the best deal on the retail price of their landscape. All tolled, they take about 15 hours of footage. Including the brief “family roll” (where they filmed us eating an egg breakfast courtesy of our backyard chickens!), editors will squeeze everything into one eight-minute segment
The reason we will have 16 minutes of fame today as opposed to only eight is that the Sembrats are also our clients. Although they played a huge roll in the design of their property, they let us take a fair amount of the credit for their amazing landscape. Melissa and I are not expecting to win today’s contest, but we won’t be surprised if the Sembrats do.
Although “the talent” loved our place, we put a lot of money into systems that are difficult to see. Some of the best features of our landscape are completely inexpensive (our chicken coop, for example), but other parts are pretty pricey (such as the underground cistern system). We were impressed by how modern television actually decided to promote our yard and all of its permaculture, but we get it. We get the fact that what we do here is not quite ready for primetime—or rather that primetime is not quite ready for us—but that’s okay. We’re thrilled to be able to promote our version of sustainability in any way we can. Plus, we get to be on TV!