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!

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 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mud Room Organization

School is out finally, and I've been recuperating from the last few weeks of school insanity.  I'm finally getting around to de-cluttering and organizing rooms in my house that have been driving me insane for months now.  I know you can relate!  We have a very small mud room/laundry room/back porch area.  It has been one of the biggest organization challenges.  It houses garden boots, 4 kinds of animal feed, seeds, bulbs, jackets and coats, and the list goes on.  I think I have finally figured out a way to keep it all organized....let's just hope it stays that way!  Ron brought home this awesome metal rack from work.  It is perfect for storing boots and shoes on the bottom rack.  I cleared the top shelf and added a cute tray with seeds and pots, and a basket for bulbs.  It's a small space, so I had to get rid of a lot of clutter!

An organized mud room is an urban homesteader's dream!  I hope to have a cabinet installed where the rack is eventually, but this works for now.

A few seeds left over from planting season.  I expect this tray to be full in the pre-planting seasons.

I hung a cute vintage sheet to close off the hot water heater area.  This is the animal feed/jacket/hat area.  Believe me, it looks much better than before!  

What organizing have you been up to on your urban homestead lately?  Tips?