For those of you who have somehow avoided the controversy until now, the Dervaes family has trademarked the term “Urban Homesteading.” I don’t know exactly what their intentions were for doing so – it may have started innocently as a way to protect the term from more insidious corporations, it may have been an honest belief that they coined the term and made it what it is, or it may have been for some other reason entirely.
The Dervaes are very press savvy. Full disclosure – back when I was in film school, I featured them in one of my thesis films about peak oil and climate change. I don’t want to violate any of the trust they put in me by revealing their innerworkings behind the scenes. So suffice it to say that it was clear to me that they have ambition and understand how the press can help them get where they want to go.
Trying (it seems twice) to trademark urban homesteading is something that they probably knew would make many fans more loyal, turn a few away, but in general give them some additional press to spread their word. I’m sure they had no idea how much press – actually I imagine they probably view it as a misstep now, but I don’t know.
But whatever the reasons they did it, it has divided us. Again.
We have a multitude of very real, very severe planetary problems around us. Yet we are fighting about a terminology, fighting about owning a thing that isn’t really a thing at all – just utterances in air and ink. Instead of uniting against much worse things out there: Congress that never passing much in the way of planetary protection, oil drilling in Alaska, butterflies and birds that are going extinct, terribly unpredictable weather around the world this season, wars that never cease, world poverty that is devastating whole cultures….
Don’t get me wrong – I think the Dervaes did make a mistake in taking a seriously bold step to trademark a lifestyle that so many people are proud of. I will use the term urban homesteading – along with permaculture, biodynamic, four square gardening, simple life, local living, and so on – because I believe it is more important for us to unite around such terms. These define our movement, the movement we have built together over many years. We are all in this together, hoping to impact the world in a positive way, as our predecessors did in the 70s, the 40s, and all those before them.
Let’s not lose sight all the many important reasons to harness our anger before it’s too late – before the planet changes irreversibly, our lives change irreparably, our children don’t have the same planet to grow up in.
Dervaes family, you know I respect you all for what you have done. I hope you, too, can see this controversy is leading us off our important track together. I wish you the best in making a decision that is good for the planet, good for the movement, and good for us all.
And for the rest of us, if this is really making you angry, ok – put your anger there. But reserve a bit of your anger for something bigger than all of us. Today, consider putting an equal amount of anger toward helping an important planetary cause that you really believe in.
It took me 45 minutes to write this post today. I will spend 45 minutes signing petitions, calling Congress, and finding other ways to inspire positive social change.