Monday, February 21, 2011

What's in a name? An Urban Homestead in Singapore

As you may know, there is all sorts of commotion on the “interwebs” around the use and registration of the phrase Urban Homesteading as a trademark by the Path to Freedom folks. I am not going to link again to them you can look it up if you want. Path to Freedom (aka the Dervaes Family) really are an active bunch of Urban Homesteaders who have taken a trademark (in the United States) out with the Supplemental Register. A trademark, filed within the United States, no matter if it is a full registration or a supplemental registration, gives the trademark holder some rights to protect the phrase against others who might want to use the same phrase in the same geographical location. (For more information about the trademark kerfuffle you can look here at Crunchy Chicken, or join the Facebook Group discussing the same). The Dervaes Family states they had the best of intentions when they registered the phrase, but frankly once letters from an "ersatz attorney" started flying threaten users of the phrase, the Urban Homesteading Movement got pissed.

It is really silly after all. The phrase is commonly used, the trademark probably should not have been granted and the egoistic behavior of the family is just getting more and more people worked up. Frankly, the best thing for the Path To Freedom Crew would be to step up and say...OOPS, we screwed up. Sorry. Accept that you did a stupid thing. Be a grown up. Accept Responsibility. Say you are sorry. People may still forgive you. Forget, perhaps not, forgive. I hope so. The fuss and bother and this post today is a part of a big movement to try to take back the phrase URBAN HOMESTEAD.

The good news is I can say I am an Urban Homesteader all I want and there is nothing that they can do to stop me. That is because any trademark protection that they may have is limited to the geographical location in which they filed. So because I live in Singapore I can use URBAN HOMESTEAD. PATH TO FREEDOM. HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION. GROW THE FUTURE. And so on, yup not a damn thing they can do about it. The limits of the trademark protection stop at the borders of the USA. The letters the family sent to people in other countries are unenforceable, although the actions taken at Facebook and Google are possible as both sites are operated from within the US.
Okay, just because I am feeling feisty….I will GROW THE FUTURE on my URBAN HOMESTEAD walking a PATH TO FREEDOM and living a HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION. You get the point. I can say it over and over, but that is just as silly as what the Dervaes crew are doing.

But, what I am doing in truth is that from my little corner of the world, my 1900 square foot apartment in Singapore, I am proudly declaring I am a URBAN HOMESTEADER.

So, what is an Urban Homesteader. Well, the definition is really up to you, it means lots of things to lots of people. I don't have a huge garden-I don't grow enough food to feed my family, I don't have chickens (the condo in Singapore might frown on that), but I do have a few herb plants, that as much as I try to kill with my brown thumb valiantly hang on. I do make food from scratch. I do try to shop and source products locally. I mend sheets when they rip, I patch clothes. I freecycle and recycle. I do believe in the traditions that my Great Grandmother (A HOMESTEADER MONTANA) followed by living frugally, using what you have, being a part of a community. Ah yes, a community. Homesteaders, no matter how removed and far away from each other, relied on community. I am a part of a community-both online and in real life. And it is community that clinches it for me.

Homesteaders, Urban-Suburban-Rural and Virtual need each other. Just like they needed each other to raise a barn, tend to the sick or just join each other for fellowship on a Sunday afternoon when my Grandma was around, we need each other now. We need to share seeds. We need to share ideas. We need to cry together when our first chicken gets eaten (either by the neighborhood dog-or in our own soup pot). We need to be able to act together as a community and that is what the group intending to take back the phrase is doing.

The Dervaes family are Urban Homesteaders. You bet they are. They grow lots of food, they live simply, the seemingly walk the talk and practice what they preach, but they forgot one of the key principles of homesteading. That is the community portion. While I can proudly say I am a URBAN HOMESTEADER and my apartment is an URBAN HOMESTEAD and I am proud to be a part of a community that lives simply and knows what part they play in the world. Do I hate the Dervaes, no. Do I think they were misguided in trying to protect and capitalize on the phrase URBAN HOMESTEADING. Yes. Do I feel sorry for them that they have lost their bit of the community. Most of all.


Stone Cottage Mama said...

I love your blog and have added it to my blogroll! You have my 1000% support Urban Homesteaders!

Simple Mama said...

Awesome post! Love it!

Open Kitchen Concept said...

I like your blog! I live in Singapore too and aspire towards a simple life!

Kurt said...

Hi Kristy, is there anyway that i can contact you via e-mail?

can mail me back at underkurtverism [at]

colinngisblog said...


I read about your blog and if i am not wrong, you just migrated to Singapore for a few years and hence, i would like to conduct an online survey with you regarding your opinions about Singapore for the project I am currently working on. The survey is at

Really hope that you can help out and i thank you i advance.

Colin Ng

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