Thursday, February 16, 2012

Urban Hippy Armstrongites Still Causing Controversy

Several years ago we had an employee in the Landscape Department at Ambassador College in Pasadena who went off the deep end.  So much so he was quickly terminated.  Once that happened he started weekly protests with his van parked Green Street, St. John Ave and on Del Mar by the tennis courts.  He drug his wife and kids out to protest with him for many months carrying picket signs. Later he just resorted to parking the van plastered with magnetic signs.  He became the laughing stock of the church and neighborhood.

Later his wife left because of his weird actions.  He rambled on in a house close by Orange Grove and Fair Oaks where he start growing food in his backyard.  All of this was a result of the aberrant teachings of Armstrongism that the world was coming to and end and that members needed lower their standard of living and to become self sufficient  because they were going to be persecuted for being Sabbath keepers.

Jules Dervaes actually became quite good at being self sufficient, so much so that he started getting recognized in papers and the news.  Restaurants started buying his organic greens.  Groups toured his gardens and his home. He would use bicycles to make power, tried to use as little electricity as possible and so on.

As he became more popular the bigger his head got until early last year he filed for copyright over the words "urban homesteaders."  He claimed that he and his family had originated the concept and that those who used the words were taking the spotlight and income away from hm.  The crap quickly hit the fan.  He sent letters of "cease and desist" to everyone they could find across the country that used "urban homestead" in their blogs, web sites, books, movies, etc.  He contacted Facebook and caused hundreds of Facebook pages to be shut down because of those two words. The Dervaes went into combat mode  and bucked down for a fight.

People hit back fast at them.  New Facebook pages were set up. Internet sites went after them.  See
Dervaes Family "Urban Homestead" Trademark Debacle and The Journey: Homesteading Forums.

The "Debacle" blog has this:

UPDATED, 3:39 P.M.: The Dervaeses have responded by saying this controversy is really just a conspiracy by critics. "It's a false, made up claim that people are jumping over themselves to make us look bad," blogs Anais Dervaes, before giving everyone the courtesy of publishing the cease-and-desist letter they're sending around to bloggers and libraries. The letter actually has suggestions for people to stop using the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading"!

"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," the letter states. "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."
Nice--not only are they faux hippies, but now they want to play the Though Police. WEAK SAUCE.

UPDATED, 2:15 P.M.: Harriet Ells, producer for KCRW-FM 89.9's Good Food With Evan Kleiman (for which I contribute) just tweeted that the Dervaeses sent them a cease-and-desist letter because they used the term in a blog post. The irony of this, of course, is that Kleiman joined the family for a meal last summer as part of an episode for Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. They also sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Santa Monica Public Library because the library hosted a free event on urban homesteading. What douches!
 Then to make things more interesting one of Dervaes girls plagiarized another web site using that information as their own.  See:  How the Dervaes Family Stole My Victory Garden

As a writer I value my work even when others do not.  A few years ago I wrote an impassioned plea to “Bring Back Victory Gardens”.  Because my website did not receive a great deal of traffic at the time (I wasn’t yet the amazing rockstar garden author that I am today) and I believed that plea worthy of more exposure, I created this page on HubPages in the hope that it would draw more attention.  Little did I know until this morning that it drew more than just attention, it drew a thief in urban homesteader’s clothing.

While being directly quoted is flattering as all hell, being stolen from is not. When your words are stolen by a member of the Dervaes Family and used as their own, it is even more flattering in a roundabout way.  How is it that the family who are the self-proclaimed founders of the urban homestead movement couldn’t even find the original words to describe what they do? 
 Michael Nolan concludes with this:

Listen Up, Dervaes Family

You have bullied the gardening and urban homesteading community long enough.  I’m not bothering with a cease and desist letter because it is far more satisfying to expose you for the unoriginal frauds that you are and let the people decide who they want to believe.  Thankfully I have been a part of this community long enough to know that its members are not the sheep you take them for and your time of pulling the wool over their eyes has come and gone.
Michael Nolan
EDITED TO ADD: In an ironic twist, Dervaes Family Member Justin (do I need a trademark symbol here?) wrote this blog post on plagiarism somehow preaching about it and its impact just a few days ago.  Maybe he should converse with his sister…
An attorney weighs in on the Dervaes actions in  August of last year:   Urban Homestead as a Trademark & Cancellations

Being ethical in Armstrongism has never been a strong point.  Its leaders have been some of the most unethical men men ever.  They have lied, they have manipulated, they have connived and they blackmailed people for decades.  Is it any wonder that we see this kind of stuff carrying over into the membership?  Armstrongism has had legal counsel that made mincemeat of anyone that tried to sue the church or it's leaders.  People were defamed and ripped to shreds by these men.  Now we see how it all trickled down to the membership.  Just further proof that Armstrongism is rotten to the core.

In case any of you want to buy the Dervaes Homesteading calendar please note the following stipulation:
A day of rest, a Sabbath request. We ask that wherever you may live to refrain from purchasing from this website between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset. Little Homestead in the City® 2012 Calendar
.I can be guaranteed that they will NOT refund your money and will gladly take it.  Just more hypocrisy from the cult of Armstrongism


Anonymous said...

I didn't recognize the Dervaes' were doing all of this out of an adherance to Armstrongist teaching. Essentially, what you're saying this is all preparation to go through "the great tribulation" isn't it? But then they slap this "u###n h##########g" label on it, and pretend for the world it is about "reducing their carbon footprint" and "eating local" and all the other hippy sustainability stuff?

I was surprised when I heard the Dervaes had gone on a witch hunt against the very community that had helped them and praised them so much. It just seems like such a bad idea, guaranteed to turn friends (and customers) into enemies without any upside for anyone. This witch hunt is the equivalent of a marketing blitz, campaigning for everyone to think of them and their brand as the Monsanto of city farming.

That was before I knew they were the ones with the van parked on Del Mar shown in the picture, which I remember seeing as a kid. To be fair, the complaints they took to the streets about back then were valid complaints, much the same as the complaints voiced on this website. This does not mean their reaction is entirely sane and balanced.

Most people look at various directions to go, and decide they don't want their lives and their reputations to revolve around negative things, so they move on. I don't know, maybe they simply have an activist mindset and enjoy wrestling every single thing down to the mat. They are four people who are inordinately loud. It seems as though they're not selective about what they take to the streets over. They take to the streets about everything!

With their energy, drive, and dedication to whatever they do, I feel they're selling themselves short by choosing to focus on such a limited domain as their own backyard. They could have built a much more lucrative business. Trader Joe's is an example of another business started in Pasadena that has been grown into a big brand name worth many hundreds of millions of dollars. But I am pretty confident Joe Coulombe wasn’t acting out an Armstrongist dream when he started his store. On the other hand, maybe we should be thankful they've limited themselves. The world does not need another Monsanto.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised to learn they themselves had been guilty of the very same thing they complain about incessantly--people plagiarizing their writing. In fairness, I am sure they have some valid complaints, but there is a difference between protecting yourself and making everybody hate you. If you want to turn into Nazis, you better be squeaky clean perfect, or else the entire s##tstorm you deal out to others is going to come right back on your own head. Since nobody is perfect, it's a good policy not to turn into Nazis in the first place.

Assistant Deacon said...

Dervaes can at least take comfort in the fact that his nutjob tendencies spawned an entire nutjob movement after Gerald Flurry plagiarized his writings to start the PCG.

"Will it go round in circles" -- Billy Preston

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take more than one look at the van to tell there is crazy at work. More than that, it's the detailed kind that you know would spawn lawsuits and epic manifestos.