Urban Homesteading: you can't own who we are

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I have been calling myself an urban homesteader for years.  I knew it was a movement a decade ago.  In fact, it was a movement started in the sixties with my mom's generation of people "getting back to the earth". 

Urban homesteading is a growing movement of people re-learning homesteading skills on a city-scale.  There is a fairly well known website of a family who's also been a part of this movement who believe they are solely responsible for coining the name of this movement, so much so that they have trademarked the term "Urban Homesteading".

I have never personally liked the "Path to Freedom" website run by the Dervaes family but I was happy enough to see another website where people could get information about growing food on small city lots.  I have always thought that the more people talking about urban homesteading and sharing ideas the better.

Now I'm angry. 

The Dervaes family is trying to enforce their dubious trademark on the term "Urban Homesteading" (and "urban homestead" too, I believe).  I don't know all the details but I don't need to know much more than that it is a betrayal of this movement to try to own its name and control its use. 

The spirit of the urban homesteading movement is a non-commercial, non-corporate approach to self sufficiency on a small scale.  What part of this movement is about ownership of its name?  What part of this movement is about owning what and who other people are?  None of it.  What I have loved about urban homesteaders across the board is their willingness to share information for free, their encouragement to others to come join the fun, to explore self sufficiency with the goal of becoming less dependent on corporate America.


Supposedly all of us who have been calling ourselves urban homesteaders for years must no longer use that term.

Trademarking the term urban homesteader and urban homesteading is no different than trademarking these terms: housewife, animal husbandry, homesteader, farmer, plant conservationist, home gardener, city dweller, marathon runner, anarchist, American citizen, nurseryman, self sufficiency, dairy farmer... and this list is infinite.

You can't own me.  You can't own who I am.  You can't own the life I lead and my ability to succinctly describe it to others.  You can't own a grassroots movement.  If a movement can be owned at all (which I don't believe it can) the minute someone owns any part of it it is no longer a grassroots movement but a business.  You can't own what people call themselves.  You can't own the words that describe what a person does and what they believe in.

Trying to own the term "urban homestead" in any of its forms is like trying to own the term "Christian" and then forcing all Christians to come up with some other way to identify themselves and what person on earth is arrogant enough to try to own the faith of others?

Urban homesteading is my faith.  It's my spirit.  Growing my own food and herbs, raising chickens, sewing my own clothes, recycling, composting, choosing open pollinated plants, building raised beds and coops, making my own medicines... this is who I am.  It's what I believe is more important than anything else.  Even when I'm not able to work on all the projects I want, even when all I can do is dry some of my own thyme and cook great food for my family, I am still an urban homesteader and no one can take that away from me.

No one can own me.

No one can own you either.

Please read about this and if you can donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation who is helping to fight this issue, please do.  If you have a blog or a website and can write about it- please do.  Everyone who has ever considered themselves an urban homesteader should speak up and shout out. 

Riding the Fences of the "Urban Homestead": Trademark Complaints and Misinformation Lead to Improper Takedowns 


Urban Homesteading

Take Back Urban Homesteading

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7 Comments

Very well said. I wonder if our outrage will have any effect. Well, perhaps not on the D family.It does seem to be creating community from a bunch of far flung people who prefer being at home and might not have ever "met" otherwise.
Keep up the good work.

i agree with Amy... i've met a lot of very 'cool' and 'down to earth' folks in the past few weeks... and no 'they' can't own me either ;)

Thank you so much! I didn't even find out that this was all going on until a couple of days ago. I'm so glad I did because I am heartened by everyone speaking out and like you two I am enjoying the chance to meet new people who are passionate about the same things that I am!

Amy- I don't see a link here to a website or blog- do you have one? My blog template is annoying and doesn't always reveal source. I'd love to visit where you are if you write online!

Wonderful post! My grandparents were talking about urban homesteading back in the 60's, not sure how Mr. I-Am-A-Cult-Leader JD has the balls to try to take this away from honest hardworking ppl. He's definitely bitten off more than he can swallow this time.

While this is a bad situation for us all, it is good in one aspect that it has brought the urban homestead together, like Linda said. Big ole Internet quiting bee!

Sun- thanks so much for reading and commenting! I am thinking about digging up pictures of my great grandpa Joe who kept bees and grew vegetables on an urban lot (I think it was in Detroit) because that's what a lot of people did. Urban Homesteading is returning to something we all used to do whether we lived in the country, suburbia, or the cities. So it's no kidding that the Dervaes have some pretty big balls to try and claim the word for what your grandparents and mine were already doing.

I'm completely energized and inspired by how many urban homesteaders are coming out of the woodwork!

I checked out your web page and though you don't seem to be writing there anymore I truly enjoyed looking at all the pictures of your garden and animals. I especially enjoyed the local wildlife page!

Dervaes doesn't care what we write or think about him. He doesn't own the phrase "urban homesteading" - it is registered in Supplemental Register with no exclusive rights for trademark owner. We explain details on www.denverurbanhomesteading.org.We need to cancel this trademark. Dervaes shut down our Facebook pages and sends letters prohibitting to use common phrases. We need to start real actions and get our phrase back.

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  • Irina: Dervaes doesn't care what we write or think about him. read more
  • angelina: Sun- thanks so much for reading and commenting! I am read more
  • Sun: Wonderful post! My grandparents were talking about urban homesteading back read more
  • angelina: Amy- I don't see a link here to a website read more
  • angelina: Thank you so much! I didn't even find out that read more
  • linda: i agree with Amy... i've met a lot of very read more
  • Amy Sirk: Very well said. I wonder if our outrage will have read more