I’m not one to use this term, I generally prefer Urban Farmer. But I know a lot of other people that like to call themselves “urban homesteaders.” So this is to stand up for them! Excuse me, this may get snarky.
There’s a family out there that I found a few months ago (after I had started using the term urban homesteading, btw) and was following. They were homesteading on a city lot. I thought it was fascinating. At first I thought maybe I could learn something from them. Then I quickly realized that they didn’t seem all that interested in teaching people but rather just bragging about what they do. But I continued to follow just in case they would change their ways. Then today they posted something and all of a sudden I learned a LOT.
The Dervaes family claims on their About Page, “Please note that Path to Freedom is a noncommercial, family-operated venture. We devote countless hours to this site, and, despite the opportunity for profit, we remain committed to keeping it an advertisement-free forum. We do this because we believe in giving freely to others, a value upon which strong, healthy communities are built. We hope you will take this principle to heart, and will view this site not just as a place to “take” (answers, ideas, inspiration), but as an opportunity to “give” as well. Whatever you may gain by reading about our journey, please remember to “pay it forward” to others in some fashion. Together, we can ignite a revolution of spirit that will truly change our world for the better!.”
Well, you want a revolution? One is coming, but it’s not the one you wanted to ignite.
Today they posted this nice little form letter that reeks of “cease and desist” but doesn’t actually say the words. Actually they claim that they are the victims in all of this – something I’ve noticed they do a lot. They also claim to only have trademarked the terms “urban homesteading” and “urban homestead” to keep corporations from doing so. Well what exactly are you protecting the rest of us from when you treat those that use the terms the same way that corporations would have?
My friend Nicole, of FARMcurious did the research for us. So go check it out.
There’s a movement. Go post on your blog that you are an urban homesteader and bring this to the forefront. We must fight those that try to trademark a lifestyle and deny those of us that live that lifestyle from saying what we do. So far we’ve already forced them to shut down their Facebook pages. Just desserts for getting Facebook to shut down pages that contained those terms including the Instutute of Urban Homesteading’s page? Seems like it to me. Join the Facebook page Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) and become part of the movement to get our lifestyle back from the Dervaes Family.
13 thoughts on “I am an Urban Homesteader <----Not Trademarked! HA!”
Great post. I'm really irritated they trademarked those terms and are going after bloggers, authors and libraries.
Guess what, I'm an Urban Homesteader! I practice Urban Homesteading on my Urban Homestead!
I've always tried to support the Dervaes family for their contributions to this movement of attempting to be more self-reliant in a city. Their existence gave me motivation to see what I could do on my little lot. But this just takes it all way too far. How they were even able to trademark those terms is beyond me. Their actions say to me that they want to be leaders of a movement as long as everyone pays homage to them for being the ground breakers. But aren't we all breaking ground in our own unique ways? Living in a city brings unique challenges to raising food. All of us participating in this lifestyle have something valuable to bring to the table because we've all gone through or tried different things. I'm so disappointed.
This whole controversy makes me really sad. I have enjoyed the Dervaes sites for several years.
It seems to me that this is hypocrisy on their part. They claim to want everyone to take up the urban homesteading movement. I would think that they would be happy they sparked such a "revolution." I do understand the frustration at having your blog scraped. And I have read some book excerpts that should have been attributed to them. However, trademarking common wording and going after THEIR OWN FOLLOWERS is over the top.
I sincerely hope they rethink this latest stunt. They are going to do damage to the cause. If they are honestly interested in uniting people in a home grown revolution they should see what all this infighting is doing.
Quick note of interest: Jules Dervaes wrote a book many years ago explaining the religious beliefs of his denomination and offered it for free to anyone interested. The book was stolen in its entirety and sold under someone else's name…someone well known within their denomination. He won a legal battle in that case. Maybe that is the reason they are going overboard here. I'm just trying to give the benefit of the doubt.
Ugh. It's pretty sad to see a so-called "sustainability" advocate who "shares" information using corporate tactics to prevent the spread of the movement (you know, the one they claim to have personally created).
Honestly, these people no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt. The most irritating sentence on their blog is this: "If your use of one of these phrases is not to specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute, then it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using."
Um. Last I checked, "urban homestead" IS a generic term. It shouldn't belong to them.
FYI, they now posted a "Know the Facts!" blog. It basically tries to justify the stupid thing they've done by showing that other people have done similar stupid things (and trademarked generic phrases). Of course, comments are disabled.
Lynda, They are so full of bullshit. None of the people that own those trademarks send out letters telling bloggers and business owners to not use the phrase/word in their titles or works because they realize that pissing people off won't help their cause/business. I am so fired up about this!
Great post, Rachel. None of this will ever stand up in court, but it's so annoying (devastating, even) for groups like the Institute of Urban Homesteading who are having pages dropped from Facebook. Boo Hiss!
I'm not currently an 'urban' homesteader, but that's just a mere consequence of where the city limit boundary is drawn. I'm not even specifically fond of the term 'Urban Homesteader' per se. I was fortunate to be mentored by my grandparents when it came to growing food. They grew food because they had to. I've always grown food, but I grow food because I want to. Urban homesteading, whether from want or need, isn't new, it's simply a return to what our ancestors had always done before the era of 'convenience foods'.
I don't necessarily feel personally slighted by the Dervaes family's move to trademark these terms, but I do take enormous issue with the Trademark Office granting these service marks, because they were completely wrong to do so. They clearly made an error granting these terms, and by doing so it has set a bad precedent. As most of us know, generic terms cannot be trademarked if they are in common and popular usage. It's clear the family has done this because they can, knowing that it will stand unless someone takes the time and resources to mount a challenge. The trouble is, urban farmers/homesteaders are a passionate lot, and they've opened a very large compost bin of worms!
As this family professes to be non-commercial, and the only service they seem to offer is information (which all bloggers do), I don't see how or why they even need these service marks.
I honestly don't see how the family will get out of this one. At a bare minimum they've completely lost all credibility. If they keep the trademark(s), they will permanently lose the respect of most of their followers. If they relinquish the trademark there will always be a bitter taste in our mouths because their efforts to 'own' and take credit for a concept that isn't theirs to own.
Maybe I'm completely ignorant, but I'm rarely one to follow trends, and often I make a determined effort not to. I'm the least 'trendy' person I know. In fact, I had never even heard of the Dervaes family until a few weeks ago when I accidently stumbled on their website. I wasn't impressed. I'm not saying they haven't made contributions to urban farming, but it's clear they're more concerned with fame and notoriety than any real lasting legacy. Sad.
I actually follow their blog in my reader and haven't been terribly impressed by their output of useful information.
I did however, get their letter and it was pretty clear that they don't want ANYONE to use the word Urban Homestead except when explicitly when discussing them. It even gave other suggestions to use like "Urban Sustainability Project".
I sent them a non-threatening, logical email explaining how why I was disillusioned (i.e. they seem hypocritical), how they were shooting themselves in the foot since anyone that googles urban homesteading would end up with their blog 1st, and how I wished they would relax the use of their trademark especially for non-commercial discussion.
I also said I sympathized with them with people stealing verbatim from their website, but really this was the answer? Also, if they need the revenue why not put ads on the blog?
I'm sure most (not all) would understand because of hosting and server costs.
As a person very new to the movement it was a pretty big blow… But I guess I'll roll with the punches and call mine "Yard Farming" as I learn how to get back to my roots. It has got a nice redneck ring that will fit in with our location.
BTW, I love your blog and you provide tons of useful info.
Well, there's nothing I can add to this conversation that hasn't already been said. I never liked how strongly they hinted at people to donate money, when people like yourselves (writers on this blog and people who've commented here) provide actual information along with inspiration–without asking me to give you money. I appreciate that. 🙂
You guys are all so awesome! Thank you! Really, I mean it. I started this blog to help teach people stuff (and, let's face it to talk about myself 😉 since blogs are pretty self centered and all). But I would NEVER EVER EVER ask for money or donations. Sure I pay for the domain name but it's cheap.
Woot! Thanks for posting! You know I also don't use the term homesteader, etc but wowsa, what the Dervaes doing is ridiculous! I am loving the collective outrage, sense of community and seeing what other bloggers are saying
Uh huh…grrrr! Yes those are actual words I could use to describe their larger than life online persona. They have a little tiny lot, big heads and no sense of community (I've tried many times to speak with them and even joined their online community). They say they are advertisement free, EXCEPT that they are advertising their own stuff for sale, like seeds and other stuff. If I knew you all better, I'd get a little snarky myself, but I don't want to ruffle any feathers with my inappropriate humor. LOL
Angela, we LOVE inappropriate humor! Funny, on my other blog someone just brought up those that shall remain unnamed. LOL
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