Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Urban Homesteaders Being Hijacked by Ego and Greed

I run a country living website and produce a country living web series that addresses Urban Homesteading. To all of my readers. When you hear the phrase "urban homesteading" or "Urban homestead" does anyone in particular come to mind or do you think of it as a lifestyle? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

These days nothing at all surprises me when it comes to ego and greed.  Several years ago when I began the Under the Willow Tree community I came across dozens of blogs and websites that talked about "Urban Homesteading" and "Urban Homesteads". Obviously as the economy got worse the concept grew more popular and as it grew more popular more and more people began to share their urban homesteading experiences with the rest of the world. Some of them do a damn fine job of it too.

Research shows that urban homesteading isn't something new. The phrase goes back to sometime in the late 1700's or early 1800's and began gaining momentum in the early 1900's as people began populating urban areas in greater numbers.  In 2001 (or thereabouts) a Pasadena, California family began a website/blog about their urban homesteading experiences and as the world began to change and the economy began to tank, their website increased in popularity. They were actually doing a good job sharing their experiences until it went to their heads. From what I've heard the family is almost cult like with mom and dad and 3 adult children all living at home in an almost cult-like atmosphere. (This is what quite a few bloggers who have followed the family say). As time went on, the site wasn't really producing much helpful information for urban homesteaders but instead started focusing on how wonderful they are for what they do on their tiny piece of Pasadena property. There are several spots on the website asking for donations and volunteers and they sell much of what they grow to "restaurants and catering companies". So the whole concept of living simply and using even an urban setting to be self sufficient went out the window.

Prior to today many urban homesteaders had never heard of the "Path to Freedom" website or its operators, the Dervaes family. Apparently the patriarch of the family believes he founded the concept of "urban homesteading" and went ahead and trademarked the phrase and began cracking down on anyone using the phrase(s) "Urban Homestead" or "Urban Homesteading". Bad move. So bad in fact it will probably cost them the popularity and good reputation they enjoyed amongst their followers and their fellow urban homesteaders. When the Dervaes were asked about the trademarking of such a common phrase they directed everyone to an explanation in the FAQ section of their website that is nothing short of pure bullshit (pardon the language but that's what it is).

They were obviously confronted by quite a few angry people. Here's what they posted on their site:

“We filed our trademarks for the purpose of maintaining standards and for the protection of the term and concept.  We are still in this society that is ruled by laws and governments and, sometimes, you have to use those rules to protect the freedom of an idea before it’s too late.

We began to see the terms “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading” used as “green-washed bandwagon” terms solely for profit — even mentioned in an glossy magazine advertisement of a car. It bothered us to see the terms being used for ideas that no longer reflected the down to earth roots.
The final straw came in an email we received.  It was from the owner of a small business who created a product and named his little business with a great sounding title. Guess what? Big corporations thought it was a great sounding title as well and trademarked it and told him, he could no longer use the name he came up with.

In addition, more and more people began to use the term for profit and the public / media started to confuse our project with that of the others.  It was a matter of survival — trademarks keep the little people from being overwhelmed.

So, as the popularity of Urban Homestead and Urban Homesteading increased and began to label everything from television productions to big agriculture products, we couldn’t shake the warning bells in our minds.  The establishment of Urban Homestead and Urban Homesteading needed to be protected so we can all move forward as a movement.”

Here are their terms of use: 

If you aren’t using it to make money and are simply documenting your life or sharing your information, this would only require that you update  your websites and articles to properly cite our works and properly acknowledge if used.

When using these trademarked terms, the proper way to go about it is as follows:
Proper trademark usage should include the proper trademark notice [®],  and note in close proximity that the term is a protected trademark of Dervaes Institute or link to the site.


That’s it!  If you want to label a for-profit endeavor with the term, we ask that you contact us first.
Thank you in advance for respecting our legally protected intellectual  property rights. If you have been supportive of our ten-year online work in  the past, we appreciate very much your continued support.

If you have any questions regarding the use of Dervaes materials or trademarks, please contact us at (626) 795-8400. We would be glad to provide you with more details.


Additionally, when the angry hoards flocked to their Facebook page to voice their opinion, the Dervaes shut their page down. What's wrong, you don't want your followers to know your really just a bunch of hypocrites?  Shortly after the news hit the blogoshpere, Urban Homesteaders from around the web formed a Facebook page of their own to oppose the egotistical and greedy attempt to make people cite the Dervaes website anytime the phrase was used. I DON'T THINK SO!!!!!   Within an hour the opposing Facebook page had DOZENS of followers and all of them are doing exactly what I am here, they are spreading the word! Please, take a moment to click on the link and "LIKE" us. 

The only thing I have to say to the Dervaes family is good luck trying to stop a movement like this. Your greed has now caused literally HUNDREDS of us to oppose what your doing and instead of enjoying the referrals and benefits of being part of a team, you instead acted like the very corporations you claim to be against. And for the record, I WILL NOT direct my hard earned website traffic to YOUR website in ANY cites containing the phrase "urban homestead" or "urban homesteading". If you'd like to benefit from my traffic, it'll cost you.  However, I plan to send this post to all 250,000 people on my mailing list.

You want exposure... you got it!

Urban Homesteaders Unite!


You can follow the movement on Twitter at 

And here is the original article found on OC Weekly


  1. Nice! Thanks for posting! I am so happy to see what other bloggers are saying and the collective outrage is awesome & encouraging. The Dervaes scheme is ridiculous & shameless.

  2. I've been doing urban homesteading for years on the other side of the world (New Zealand & Australia) and before that rural homesteading till it all became too difficult. I had never heard of the Dervaes till a few weeks back.


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