Tuesday, February 22, 2011
a debate: gettin' grabby?
So have you heard about the new Urban Homestead ™ debate*? I'd like to think that I was on my way to having one, slowly (ahem. very slowly) moving there with a more productive garden and chickens, making my own pots- to sell and to trade for other goods and services. For instance, a neighbor is painting my studio in exchange for pottery and some eggs. I've also traded pottery for electrical work, and dried figs for specialty jams from other parts of the country. My 3-5 year plan includes both solar cells on the studio to offset my kiln usage, and bees. This way of living and working seems- well, cooperative (unlike Merigold). Helping one another to live better lives without having to necessarily exchange cash. Being less dependent on cash and "work" and more dependent on skills and each other.
But this? It just seems grabby to me. The term is far older than I am. I am all for protecting one's intellectual property- there has been more than one occasion that I've found the words I struggled to craft attributed to someone else- and in print, no less. But to try to exclude an entire body of people- authors, free-lance writers, bloggers, libraries, teachers, activists, and just plain old folks- around the world who are trying to make a better life for them selves and their communities by trademarking the best all-purpose term that you (the trademarker) didn't even coin? Well, that's just selfish. And boastful, in the most misplaced egocentric way possible. It would be as if I were to trademark the term coffee cup. Or berry bowl. Really? Why? Because in the end, it doesn't protect my sales of coffee cups or berry bowls. It would only serve to make me look sad and misguided and desperate- or else the recipient of some very, very bad advice.
I think we're all going to keep gardening, bringing chickens into the city, and doing our best, no matter what we are (or aren't) calling it. Oh, and if anyone has goats in Memphis, I'd love to trade some pottery (or eggs or figs) for it!
Have a good week, y'all.
*there is an awesome how-to book by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen of this same now-copyrighted name. They are facing a lawsuit because of this issue. Two ways to support them and this little take-it-back movement. 1) go buy the book. You won't regret it. Even if you just plant strawberries and basil in your front yard, it's something. 2) make a small donation to EFF, the advocacy group representing Knutzen and Coyne. There's even a paypal link! Go plant something!