I consider much of what I do to be steps towards living as an Urban Homesteader, creating a self-sufficient lifestyle that gives more than it takes. I grow my own food, compost my waste, pickle and preserve, infuse liquors and oils, make homemade bath products and try to make whatever I can out of my own materials instead of buying. The "urban" part just means that I'm doing all these things in New York City, where so much seems to be wasted around me every day and my rental apartment is only 300 square feet.
So here's the deal: The online community of urban homesteaders are in an uproar this week over a group in California who has trademarked the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading". The group is also allegedly sending out cease & decist orders to other websites using the terms, which are now legally considered their intellectual property.
My favorite part is their suggestions of other terms to use in place of urban homesteading. This is quoted from their letter that they are sending to trademark violators:
If your use of one of these phrases is not to specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute, then it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using. For example, when discussing general homesteading or other people’s projects, they should be referred to using terms such as ‘modern homesteading,’ ‘urban sustainability projects,’ or similar descriptions.
So instead of supporting fellow urban homesteaders around the country for being involved in the movement, this group has trademarked the term and turned it into an issue of marketing and money-making. Ick ick ick.
My dayjob is actually at an advertising firm, so I do understand why it's important to own your brand. But it's not fair to claim you own a lifestyle, and it's ironic that this lifestyle they're trying to own is about community and sharing.
There is some good reading on the subject at GOOD magazine's website.