Friday, February 25, 2011

The Urban Homesteading Kerfuffle

Wow. This controversy was highly unexpected. Imagine if back in the 60's, some enterprising hippie decided to trademark the terms "hippie" and "youth movement." A little antithetical to the movement, no? Well, in case you haven't yet heard, the equivalent trademark hammer crashed down last week on the urban homesteaders.

In short, the Dervaes family of Pasadena, CA - long involved with promoting urban homesteading/self-sufficiency - went ahead and trademarked the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading." Say what?!?!?! For reals?!?!

Indeed it is for reals.

I learned of this through the fabulous Oakland-based Institute of Urban Homesteading, a school I greatly respect and have studied at over the last three years. When the founder of the IUH informed us, the loyal students and supporters, that the school name might have to change because of a cease-and-desist letter, I was simply stunned. It's just so bizarre, so off-the-wall, so cuckoo-bananas. I mean, truly, cuckoo-bananas. Who does that? To quote Say Anything: "How did that... happen?"

I am in no way a proper farmer, but I do identify myself as an urban homesteader. I grow my own fruits and vegetables, I can (you know, like jam and pickles), I make sauerkraut, I crochet, I make cheese, we brew beer. I am certainly not self-sufficient, and I may not fit in a tightly-defined urban homesteader box. But, so what? As far as I'm concerned, I'm an urban homesteader and the MKG is my little (sub)urban homestead.

It is unclear how or when this urban homesteading kerfuffle will be resolved. In the meantime, I join the legions of supporters who proudly type the words Urban Homestead and refuse to add a TM.

If you're interested in more of the details, Heidi Kooy has put together an eloquent summation of the situation over at her blog: Itty Bitty Farm in the City.

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