Photo by Lynns Z Walkiewicz, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnszwalkiewicz/4015437818/
Ever hear the term urban homesteading? You know, the energy and effort so many people in Oakland, Detroit, and so many cities around the country put in to grow their own health food--right in their communities--and to develop related cost-effective, energy-saving programs like fruit foraging and greywater recycling. Does it sound like something from Mother Earth News in the 70's--or what you and your friends are doing throughout Oakland?
Bet you didn't know that the term was trademarked a few years ago by a California family in Pasadena. Uh-huh. Last week, this family, whose family name is Dervaes, sent out 16 trademark enforcement letters requiring that other organizations do not use the phrase "urban homesteading" without talking about their homesteading business. In other words, they OWN this phrase.
One of those affected was Oakland's Institute of Urban Homesteading's founder, K. Ruby Blume, who found that her Facebook page for The Institute of Urban Homesteading, which teaches classes in jamming, pickling, etc.had been blocked after FB became aware of the complaint ( other pages using the phrase were also blocked). "They’re trying to own something that’s being used for the common good,” Blume was quoted as saying in a Bay Citizen story filed late last week. “These terms have been around since the mid-70s, in magazines like Mother Earth News and others.”
But despite the Devrase's letter, Blume is moving ahead with using the term for her classes and her company--she's running a full series of urban homesteading classes including Winter Gardening Essentials and Cheesemaking 101.
However, she is applying some care--the Facebook page is back, but it's now called The New Institute of Urban Home-steading(s), a change made specifically because of the Dervase's letters.
Meanwhile, protests and discussions continue in the foodesphere--for more on the larger issues, check out discussions in the OC Weekly, Treehugger and/or Pasadena Star News.