No doubt, anyone who is vaguely interested in the concept of urban homesteading has already heard about the dramatics surrounding the Dervaes family of Pasadena, California and their attempt to copyright a list generic terms including: urban homestead, urban homesteading, and several more. I first heard about it on Jack Spirko’s fantastic “Survival Podcast” this past Friday, and then Autonomy Acres sent me a link to Sharon Astyk’s article. I’m really disappointed to have to write this post, but I think it’s important to stand up your principles. When I first became interested in the concept self-sufficiency within the urban context, the Dervaes family and their Path to Freedom website were huge inspirations for me (and in theory, they still are). Their level of media exposure and high degree of agricultural success of such a tiny area has in many ways made them the face of the urban homesteading movement. That has only served to make this recent turn of events all the more bizarre.
It’s been pretty awesome to see how quickly and loudly the urban homestead/self-sufficiency community has repudiated the validity of the Dervaes’ claims. This movement is all about trying to build community, both where live and virtually through the web. The whole concept of community is based on sharing, giving and receiving, and building each other up. Does that mean they don’t have the right to trademark their own work and profit from it? Of course not, but the Dervaes have gone so far beyond that as to be laughable. They are, in effect, attempting to claim ownership to the whole movement. The irony here, is that while their actions are operating in direct opposition to the idea of community building, the reaction from UH/SS bloggers has been intensely communal. People have come together to say that one person (or family) doesn’t have the right to tell everyone else what they can and can’t say about walking their own path to freedom. This movement belongs to all of us.
At this point, the Dervaes family has made some wishy-washy statements about this being a hoax and that people have misunderstood them…and yet they haven’t come out and officially, unequivocally rejected the claims that they feel are erroneous. To be honest, I think they were surprised at how quickly this came back to bite them. Also, the bottom of their blog still contain the following:
COPYRIGHT © 1998-2011 Dervaes Institute. All rights reserved. Photos and content cannot be reprinted or reproduced in any form without prior written consent. Path to Freedom, Urban Homestead, Urban Homesteading, Grow the Future, Homegrown Revolution (and trowel/fist logo) are registered ® trademarks of Dervaes Institute.
I like what this family has done in the past, but I can’t condone what appears to be nothing more than a selfish, short-sighted money grab on their part. What you put out into the world comes back to you times three. Assuming there are no dramatic turn arounds here, the Dervaes deserve everything they have coming to them. I’m joining others, and removing their link from New Growth. I’ll also continue to use many of their allegedly trademarked terms, and if Jules doesn’t like it, he can kiss my urban homesteading ass.