Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) Two Month Re-Cap

The Take-Back-Urban-Home-steading(s) facebook page that I started just had it's two month anniversary last week.  We're now 7000 strong, growing daily, and the momentum of the movement we created is continuing to gain speed.  I still wonder sometimes how little old me, a housewife of two, ended up starting such an amazing place for urban homesteaders to gather, share information, network, and fight injustice.  I feel like this thing literally fell into my lap; things like this don't come along often, and I've been around long enough to know that when it happens there is a good reason.  The universe, God, or whatever you want to call it, has smiled down on me and I'm enjoying the ride this page has presented for me.  I've met so many amazing, interesting and fantastic people, from well known authors and writers to home grown folks such as myself;  it's pretty cool.  There are also great challenges that go along with the page and at times I feel like it's a demanding two year old, but as with children the pain is worth the pleasure.  I've never volunteered for a more worthy cause, so I wouldn't change the way I've gone about any of this even though at times I've questioned and second guessed myself.

The page has become a two pronged focus:  We started out as a protest to the Dervaes family trademarking the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading", but somewhere along the way we realized we were a community of urban homesteaders.  When this happened I'm not exactly sure, but before I knew it people were sharing their tips on vermi-composting, chickens, good urban homesteading reads, zoning laws, and the list goes on.  There came a point when I thought this kind of community would have been better organized on a web page; facebook just seemed an odd place.  But then I saw people networking, sharing information and blogs, connecting with other relevant fb pages, and the web of information was spreading;  There was no doubt about it, facebook was the perfect venue for this community.

In the background of all of the garden tip sharing looms the legal battle we as urban homesteaders are up against.  It's always there, like a bad rash, and as much as many of us would like for it to be a non issue, it is.  In the mist of it the urban homesteading community has been beyond supportive, and after seeing the positive force we have become I have no doubt in my mind that we will win.

We're not quitters, and from what I can see we have actually brought more public attention to urban homesteading than those who are attempting to trademark our community.  Recent articles about urban homesteading were published in the New York Times and LA Times.  Deanna Duke of Crunchy Chicken, was just listed as one of Tree Hugger's Green Lifestyle Experts.  She was one of the instigators of our page, and in her bio for Earth Day she discusses her plans for her urban homestead.  Go Deanna!  I think we've created a buzz around urban homesteading, and I predict we will be seeing more in the media about it in the future.  If that isn't a huge accomplishment I don't know what is!

Hre is a re-cap of what we've accomplished in the short two months the page has been in existence.  Get ready, the list is long!

1.  We've grown to 7000 in just 2 months, crazy.

2.  We've been in many on line publications including:  GristBoing Boing (twice), BlogHer, Triple Pundit,
     EFFLA WeeklyOC WeeklySF Bay Guardian, and many others.

3.  We've raised funds to help the Denver Urban Homesteading, (A Denver based farmer's market cooperative who had their facebook page pulled due to the Dervaes' actions, resulting in thousands of dollars in financial losses to their vendors), file a petition to cancel the supplemental trademarked term "urban homesteading."

4.  We've helped advertise and spread the word through action days to support Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen's book  "The Urban Homestead: Self Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City", and Rachel Kaplan and Ruby Blume's book:  "Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living." The publishers of "The Urban Homestead", Process Media, along with the EFF has formally petitioned to cancel the trademarks on both terms.

5.  We had a massive blogging action day, in which over 200 bloggers spread the word about urban homesteading.

6.  We did an urban homesteading action You Tube Day, where around 50 urban homesteaders took videos of themselves on their urban homesteads.

7.  We've raised nearly 2400 signatures on our petition to the Dervaes to remove the trademarks.

8.  We've become a community of urban homesteaders who share information, network, raise public awareness about urban homesteading, and fight the Dervaes' attempts to trademark the terms that define our movement.

9.  We've raised awareness about the Dervaes' family's actions:  Trademarking the terms urban homestead and urban homesteading, sending out 16 cease and desist letter to libraries, publishers and authors using the terms in print, having facebook pull pages with the terms in them without notice, and now putting up new web pages and blogs with different titles than they previously had, (if you don't dig a bit you wouldn't know they are their pages.)

10.  We continue to spread the word about our movement through the media and facebook, and won't give up until we get back what is rightfully ours.  WE ARE URBAN HOMESTEADERS!!


  1. April! The page is SO awesome --I check it everyday! I've gotten so much help from others, met some cool people, found some great blogs that I check regularly now! I LOVE it! Such a community! You should feel so proud!
    I'm so thankful you created this resource for all of us!
    And for the help to our local friends, DUH, here in Colorado. I get the impression James Bertini is grateful as well (not that I can speak for him, but I know he's watching the page pretty closely).

    You rock! Urban Homesteaders ROCK!

  2. All accolades are well deserved. Congratulations.

  3. Yes and yes. The page has become so much more than what it started out being and I love looking through the wall posts every day. I've met so many wonderful people and found new blogs because of it and, mostly, because of you.

    Here's to more urban homesteading!

  4. lazyhomesteader - So glad you've gotten a lot out of the page, very cool!

    Jessica - Thanks for the support.

    Deanna - Yay for finding more blogs and wonderful people! Connections are a great thing. Thanks for all of your input and support, it's much appreciated!! Rock on!

  5. Wee hoo! You are amazing! I definitely believe that things fall into our laps at the right time. It's so good you were sitting still to catch this one! Way to go mama!


  6. Earth Mama - Ironically I was actually on the Dervae's facebook page when all of this went down! They shut their page down and we started ours. :) Just the week before I was whining to my husband about not accomplishing much, then bamo the page happened. Pretty cool how life happens like that sometimes! :) Thanks for the support!

  7. so awesome! I'm so proud of you!

  8. Can you tell us what the new webpages and blogs are??

  9. Erin - "Freedom Gardens" is one of their fb groups. There is no mention of the Dervaes Institute on their site, except for that it is one of their likes. Also, they have the fb page "Urban Homestead" in small print it says "Simply Self Reliant in the City." Again, NO mention of the Dervaes Institute. Just found a third one "Urban Homestead Supply" fb page and website - no mention of the DI that I could find. Pretty sneaky, eh? How sad that they are avoiding using their own name, and how obvious that they damaged their own reputations so severely.