Friday, June 24, 2011

Mother Earth News Editor in Chief Issues a Response

Yes, 'tis true, I received an e-mail from the Editor in Chief of Mother Earth News.  That's the good part.  The not so good part is that the response was pretty much what I had expected, a big fat disappointment.  I had to put on some pretty large hip waders to get through the content.  I knew that there was no way what she said was completely true, and upon further investigation my feelings were confirmed.  I wrote her back, and also issued a call to action on the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) fb page.  We're going to have an action day letter writing campaign weekend.  We're a small voice in the wilderness, but I feel it's our responsibility to stand up and make our voice known.  

Dear April,
If you search our website for “urban homesteading” and “modern homesteading”, you will find that we have used both of these terms for many years, and that we continue to use both terms.

Cheryl Long
Editor in Chief
Mother Earth News

My response:  

Dear Cheryl,

Thank you for your response.  I did a more in depth search for the terms "urban homestead", "urban homesteading" on your site and could not find article titles with the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" in them since 2010.  As you can see there are multiple articles with the titles using these terms in the years 2009 and 2010.  I could not search prior to these dates because I kept getting error messages.  I found 2 instances of "urban homesteading" in 2011:  A work shop: and this small blog post which uses the term once:

It is obvious that since the Dervaes Institute has trademarked these terms Mother Earth News has quit using the terms in articles.  The use of the terms is negligible otherwise, and it appears that you are choosing to legally comply with the Dervaes Institute's trademark demands.  You continue to advertise the Dervaes Institute's blog "Path to Freedom" under your "What We're Reading" section.  Although you have used the term "modern homesteading" for years it is now the most prevalent homesteading term on your site, which creates the appearance of further compliance with the Dervaes Institute's demands.  

The Dervaes Institute has destroyed their reputation among much of the urban homesteading community at large.  They sent out 16 cease and desist letters to bloggers, writers, publishers and libraries demanding that they refrain from using these terms in print or otherwise.  They then demanded that facebook disable the Denver Urban Homesteading FB page, which has caused great financial loss to this farmer's market cooperative.  

The community of thousands of urban homesteaders on the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) fb page are very disappointed in these actions, as I stated earlier.  Many of us have looked up to and respected your magazine for years.  After all, you were one of the first publications which pioneered the urban homesteading concepts in the early 1970's long before Jules Dervaes began his urban homesteading blogs, websites, and now attempt to own an urban homesteading empire.  You spear headed our movement, and seeing you bow to commercialism in this way is a huge let down for our community.  It seems that your current actions are going to cause you to continue to lose popularity with the urban homesteading community.

We're asking you to partner with us firstly by removing the Dervaes Institute's "Path to Freedom" site from your website.  As I mentioned prior, since 2011 you haven't used the trademarked terms in articles or article titles.  We're asking you to begin using these terms with frequency as you did prior to the trademarking of the terms.  Please keep in mind that our community consists of many writers, bloggers, business owners, and urban homesteading activists who are working together to fight the trademarks on the terms which belong to all of us.  Thanks for your consideration.


April Alexander
Creator and Admin of Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) FB page

UPDATE:  Since my last letter, and e-mail to the Happy Homesteader blog writer, her link to the Dervaes' blog has been removed.  Partial victory, and it remains to be seen if Mother Earth News will continue to use the terms urban homestead and urban homesteading in print.  I will keep you updated!


  1. Very well put. Can't wait to see if they respond.

  2. Ditto...waiting with baited breath to see IF or how they respond...

  3. Thanks Liisa! After the first response I'm not holding my breath...but miracles do happen!

  4. Very well written!! I hope they respond in "our" favor!!