Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dear Mother Earth News...

Today it came to my attention that Mother Earth News, (MEN), is now using the term "modern homesteading" in place of "urban homesteading" on their website.  In fact, one of the main sections on their web page is called Modern Homesteading.  As a quick refresher, Jules Dervaes of the Dervaes Institute demanded that urban homesteaders use the term "modern homesteader" in place of urban homesteader in the 16 cease and desist letters he sent to authors, publishers, bloggers, etc.  So when I saw this term up front and center on the MEN website I took a close second look.  Upon further investigation I saw that the words "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" are non existent on the site's current articles, links, etc.  Instead the terms "modern homesteading" and simply "homesteading" are the current lingo.  To add insult to injury the Path to Freedom is on the page's "What We're Reading" list.  Seriously MEN??  I feel like I just walked into a manure mine field, or maybe a modern homesteading manure field.  If MEN thinks they can re-create the terms that define the urban homesteading grass roots movement they have another thing coming.  As usual, when I'm mad  I write, and generally the quality of writing increases exponentially per anger factor.  So of course I fired off a piece of my mind to MEN this afternoon, and I honestly hope they give me a decent response.    

Dear Mother Earth News, 

I am writing to you concerning the "Modern Homesteading" section on your web page.  As the creator of the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) page I am both disturbed and concerned regarding your choice of terminology on this page.  Equally as concerning is the obvious exclusion of the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" which as I'm sure you are aware have been recently trademarked by the Dervaes Institute of Pasadena, CA, (and who's websites "Path to Freedom" is listed under your "What We're Reading" section.)  Earlier this year the Dervaes Institute sent out 16 cease and desist letters to publishers, libraries, bloggers and writers demanding that they cease using the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" to describe sustainable living for educational, commercial and other uses.  The Dervaes Institute's actions caused an out cry in the urban homesteading community and TBUH, (which has grown to 8000), was created as a grass roots protest against their actions.  Currently the EFF, (Electronic Freedom Foundation) along with Winston and Strom are representing Process Media, publishers of "The Urban Homestead:  Your Guide to Self Sufficiency in the Heart of the City" in a petition to cancel the trademarks on the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading."  Attorney James Bertini of Denver Urban Homesteading, (who's facebook page was removed without notice per the Dervaes Institute's request resulting in substantial loss of business), is also part of the petition.  The trademark battle has run the gamut in the media, urban homesteading and otherwise, and the general consensus in our community is that these terms are generic and should be available for use by everyone in blogs, books, and all written format.  The Dervaes Institute demanded that the term "modern homesteading" be used in lieu of "urban homesteading", so it is very disappointing to see these terms in one of the headings on your web page.  (I don't remember seeing this term used this way on your site prior to the trademark issue.)  It is even more disturbing to see the Dervaes Institute's blog listed on your site considering the actions they have taken against the urban homesteading community.  Your decision to support and publicize the Dervaes Institute isn't working in your favor with many in the TBUH community, which consists of hundreds of urban homesteading bloggers, writers, and activists. 


April Alexander 


  1. I think the community may actually be thousands of UH activists, but you already know that. Nicely worded letter. I hope they write you back!

  2. I think another email writing campaign is in order... IE "I will never read MEN again if this continues", I know I won't.

  3. Excellent! Thanks for this very well written letter. I hope they will get the importance of supporting the cause.


  4. @kristaandjess - Yes, I completely agree! So far I only got a "thank you" for a correction I sent them for a typo, which simply won't do.

    Rivenfae - I'm for it, great idea!

    Wen - Thanks for the support!

  5. Well said! I'm writing them as well...and canceling my subscription.

  6. Great letter April
    But this really bites cause I just started my subscription in May. Darn it why did MEN have to go to the dark side!

  7. Maureen - Good for you!

    Liisa - Oh, that really bites, bummer. It is very sad how they have sold out.

  8. Agree to all. As an urban homesteader, chef, blogger, and lecturer, I use the term all the time (I am in Canada). There is not much anyone could do if we truly took back the term. I can see it now...thousands of bloggers using the term freely, on all our pages, blog posts, everywhere. They can't sue us all.

    I'll be watching with interest.

  9. I think the strongest 'attack' should remain focused on the Dervais family is the more important fight. The term should be boldly used constantly to send them the message, these are everyday words, OUR words to use! Why not set a day/weekend to use the words 'urban homestead in our blogs.

  10. Simply Living - We did an action day using the terms in our blogs some months ago! Wouldn't hurt to do it again. I'm not wasting more breath on MEN, not worth it.