It came to my attention recently that "Path to Freedom," the urban homesteading project of Jules Dervaes and his family, has made some enemies in the urban homesteading/self-reliance/collapse preparedness communities. It seems that the Dervaes family has submitted for trademark registration several phrases commonly used by writers, thinkers, educators and other activists in the preparedness community. Not only have these phrases been registered as trademarks owned by the Dervaes family, but according to at least one source, the Dervaes family has begun sending cease and desist letters to Internet writers who use these phrases, as well as local volunteer urban food gardening teachers.
If these things are true, it would be a big disappointment - yet it would not be entirely unexpected. Many of those who are interested in urban farming and simple living are trying to escape a dominant, predatory economic system. It makes sense that those who rule that system would try to block the exits - or, perversely, try to charge escapees some sort of fee in order to use the exits. In my mind, Jules Dervaes and his family used to stand as a model for people who are trying to escape from a dominant, exploitative system into a more equitable way of life. Now it seems they are trying to cash in on the system they claim to be rejecting. One may as well try to collect rent from people who watch the sunrise. If that's what Jules Dervaes and his family are up to, it's unethical and immoral.
It may also cost him big time. I have written him an e-mail asking him about these things. If I don't hear back from the "Dervaes Institute" within a week, or if I don't like the answer I do get from them, I will remove all links to "Path to Freedom" from my blogs. I am sure there are many other bloggers who are of the same mind. But if on the other hand, we have all misunderstood the Dervaes family, it may cost some of us - in terms of humiliation, egg on our faces, sheepish apologies, admissions that we misunderstood some really decent people and let ourselves be swayed by rumors blown out of proportion. I really hope that it's the latter. I'll know in a week.