Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteaders Unite

So apparently, there is this family in the states who, in order to pay their mortgage or some other bill, decided to trademark the terms 'urban homestead' and 'urban homesteading.' Their explanation justifies this by saying that other businesses were co-opting and watering down the term by using it in 'greenwashing' campaigns. Feeling dirty yet? Anyhow, today is a bloggers call to action to write about urban homesteading to let this family know that they cannot own the name of what some are calling a movement.

I have been reluctant to jump into the front seat of this bandwagon not because I disagree. Far from it, I think it's ridiculous to trademark the term urban homestead. The evidence that it is a commonly used expression, and predates them, is clear. My reluctance is to single out this family. It is not their fault that we live in a system which requires us to hold tight to our ideas and other expressions of creativity in order to make cash to feed our families or send them to higher education or whatever. (I am not apologizing for them. It was their choice to do the very thing they said they were protecting themselves from). There have been times that even I have held back giving out the info goods because I require it for a talk or some other project. I hate to do this. It feels far more natural to share than to hold the monopoly on an idea, a technique or a process.

What worries me is that people are merely protesting the fact that they are protecting a commonly used term. I think there is much more to be concerned about here.

This blog has been solicited on more than one occasion to include ads or otherwise sell stuff. I do not work (much - I do some edible landscaping) outside the home so it has been momentarily tempting but it just goes against my ideals. If I were hungrier, my ideals might be less of a priority. So I put the blame on something greater than this internet villian of the week though I also agree that urban homesteading belongs to all of us.

If you are interested learning more, here is the twitter hashtag: #DumptheDervaeses and facebook page for those who are protesting the trademark.


Anonymous said...

I am following this closely as well, and I have the same feelings as you. Im disappointed in the Dervaes', as I have always looked up to them tremendously. But it kind of feels like a mob is feeding on the hatefulness of attacking this family, than a group of people getting together for something they stand for. Why couldnt this large group of urban homesteaders get togeher for something positive?

meemsnyc said...

I hope things will resolve itself soon. It seems like it has angered so many people, hopefully all will calm down soon.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Meem: It seems to be calming down now with some internet gardener/growers/food activists calling for this kind of togetherness to be focused into something positive.

Anon: This was my feeling too. It seemed very nasty at times even if it is a worthy object of protest. Hopefully something constructive will come out of it.