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Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteading Day of Action

Urban Homesteaders in Santa Fe, NM
I'm sure many of you have heard by now that the Dervaes Institute has managed to trademark the terms "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading" and have recently begun going after authors, non-profits, and bloggers who use these terms in their work.

Today is a day of action for urban homesteaders to stand up and be counted, and to let it be known that urban homesteading is a movement, and that no one has the right to claim ownership of the language we use to identify ourselves.

I have no doubt that the Dervaeses will soon find themselves on the losing end of legal action (thanks to the good people at EFF). This brand of greedy legal intimidation won't win them anything in the courts , and it won't win them any friends either. And so, I don't want to waste too much breath on a rant about why it's wrong for the Dervaeses to trademark these terms. It's obvious, right?

A movement has really come together over the past few days to defend the spirit of collaboration and generosity that is so central to this lifestyle. One of my favorite things about urban homesteading is that it means many different things to many different people. It's so broadly used a term that I doubt we could even agree on a definition. I've been reading some of the other blog posts associated with this day of action, and I really admire the diversity represent. Some of us are applying permaculture principles in our backyards, others focus on preserving foods they get from local farms. We are radical homemakers, businesspeople with chickens on the side, and everything in between. Heck, we don't even define the term "urban" the same way; we live in major metropolitan areas, small towns, and suburbs alike. It's inspiring and invigorating to know that there are thousands of us out there, and I'm proud to be a part of this loosely defined movement.

I want to give a special shout out to Grow and Resist, who has made me think hard about the connotations of adopting a loaded word like "homesteading" to define my lifestyle. In her words, "...the term homestead is loaded with historical traumas. Some things come to mind are manifest destiny. The displacement of Indigenous People by force. Genocide.  It is a history of white privilege and power. Current day the term is often seen as a movement of only positive things, such as practical, sustainable and environmentally sound principles.  Ignored is the gentrification that often takes place as well as the white dominance of the movement." Now, I've been running around calling myself an urban homesteader and building covered wagons, and needless to say it's time for me to re-evaluate the way I talk about my lifestyle. So thank you, Grow and Resist, for keeping me on track to do just that.

Problematic though the phrase "urban homestead" may be, it's what we've got for now, and its meaning has been defined collectively over many decades. "Urban homesteading" has united us, helped us find each other online, on blogs, meet each other at social gatherings and identify a common vision. We own it in a way that no corporation can, because it's not simply a piece of "intellectual property" to us; it's a part of our identity and it's a vision for our cities and our neighborhoods.

2 comments:

growandresist.com said...

Thanks for the shout out and I'm glad you liked my post! Isn't the power of social media incredible? I am amazed at how quickly the momentum gathered. I love all the blogs I have found! Thanks!

growandresist.com said...

Thanks for the shout out and I'm glad you liked my post! Isn't the power of social media incredible? I am amazed at how quickly the momentum gathered. I love all the blogs I have found! Thanks!