So you say you want a revolution?

It can be rather ironic sometimes – in the true sense of the word, and not the Alanis Morissette sense – that people who advocate for a certain change get change. It just isn’t quite the one they thought they would be getting.

For a case in point, we need look back no further than the antics of the Dervaes family and the rather disastrous public relations/business debacle they’ve created. For those not familiar with the subject, just read the post linked above, and then come back to this one.

From what I have been able to glean, the first notices sent out by Dervaes were on or about February 13. This flew under the radar for a few days and then really exploded on February 18-19. In that span, word spread, someone created a new Facebook page (over 4000 people now) in support of the pages that Facebook had pulled down, and, most importantly, an “Urban Homesteaders Day of Action” was organized to take place today, all via the Internet. In a broader sense, this, to me, is one of the most useful aspects of the ability to share information in the times in which we live. Despite protestation from the Dervaes that they were not “suing bloggers” and not “sending out cease and desist” notices, this is exactly what they were in effect doing, semantics aside. Because they love to talk about themselves, and because people had posted the very notices they had sent out, it was very easy to confirm all of this, and point to their own Tweets as less than truthful.

Reading through some of the backhistory of the Dervaes’ various enterprises, it is clear that they – or at least the patriarch of the clan – believe that what they are doing is some kind of revolutionary act, even though people have been doing exactly the same thing for hundreds of years. It’s rather self-aggrandizing to claim that you are the “founder” of urban homesteading or that what you are doing is so distinct and unique that you are deserving to be the sole holder of claims to phrases that have been in use for generations before you came along.

Still, there is and never has been a doubt in my mind that people will often work against their best interests. For people whose first exposure to urban homesteading was the Dervaes’ rather flashy, photo-laden (but practical information poor) site, the family may hold a higher rung on the ladder than other people who simply blog or write about what’s going on in their back yards or on their properties without constantly patting themselves on the back as if they’d invented the very concept and without constantly shilling for donations to continue their “outreach” (which apparently includes trips overseas). In this case, the Dervaes have certainly worked against any goodwill they have built and worked on for the past ten years. It takes a stunning amount of arrogance to believe that you are the center of any universe, whether it is in politics, sports, or urban homesteading. While the Dervaes may get a lot of press and a lot of coverage through their efforts to obtain same, much of that serves whatever other purpose lies behind the facade of their greater plan to – again, ironically, given the furor over the trademarks in question – get away from the urban and form a commune in the middle of nowhere. The question has to be asked: if that is your intent, what is the point of claiming these specific phrases as your own? The other thought that comes to my mind is that the stated goal, plus the other various writings from Dervaes, reminds me much more of Jim Jones than it does The Beatles.

Today, various people around the globe – because yes, the Internet is a global sort of thing – are declaring themselves urban homesteaders, in defiance of trademark claims that cannot possibly stand any legal test. Why the USPTO approved these, after denying the Dervaes back in 2008, is a complete mystery, and someone was clearly asleep at the wheel on that one. While the Dervaes point to other common terms that people have trademarked, that does not excuse their actions in this case, either by gaining the trademarks or by foolishly attempting to enforce them.

With that said, here’s the beginning of the roundup of posts people have made today in support of a movement that began long ago and, luckily for us all, remains fluid and growing today.

There will be more to come as folks pop up with their posts, and of course the various sites above, plus the Facebook page, will have links.

One very real result of the Dervaes’ actions is one they likely never anticipated: they have managed, in the span of one week, to create an even more integrated, more associative urban homesteading community than they could have created otherwise. Unintended consequences, I’m sure, but it has worked out in the best sense of the word “community” for everyone else.

12 thoughts on “So you say you want a revolution?”

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I was humming Alanis Morrissette last night when I wrote =)
    I am desperate to get to reading everyone’s post but alas the Babylady is wanting my attention. Perhaps now is the time to let her start watching tv =)

  2. Thanks so much for the great article – and for the link to my article. I’m really looking forward to getting through all of the other posts listed. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!

  3. Thanks so much for the List! Between you and Crunchy, I have a ton of new reading material. I love that this community pulled together. Hopefully we can continue to be resources for one another even after this trademark business is resolved.

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