In the News

Path to Freedom and Pasadena spotlighted in the newHope Dance magazine pg 28.

Issue #58 ~ How Cities are Preparing for Global Warming & Peak Oil
Walking the Talk on the Path to Freedom  {Hope Dance}

by Brian von Dedenroth

Inching along the 210 freeway in Pasadena,I can’t help notice other drivers carry the same vapid expression that normally creeps across my face when my hopes for a speedy journey are drowned in a sea of break-lights. But this time, instead of despair, seeds of hope grow in my mind. What if I could simplify my life, find more time for family and friends, feel more fulfilled, and inspire others to do the same? I’ve just met with a quartet of urban pioneers whose lifestyle has inspired me by walking the talk on the Path to Freedom.

The Path to Freedom is an urban homestead, run by the Dervaes (Dur-VAYS) family, who live within spitting distance of the 210 freeway. They are a family who see no future in a life tied to the electrical grid, dependency on foreign oil, and a modern technological world that has turned us into its subjects. Jules Dervaes, the patriarch, believes the modern world has made us ignorant of where our food and water come from and where our wastes go. To take back control of their lives, the Dervaes have started a “homegrown revolution” using their hands as “weapons of mass creation” to live a more sustainable life.

When I was a kid one of my favorite cartoons was called Hocus Focus, which differences between two nearly identical drawings. Using the Hocus Focus model, imagine drawings of Panel 1:Typical American lifestyle and Panel 2:the Dervaes lifestyle. (See chart on this page).

Spot the differences? If you’re lifestyle is more like Panel 1 than Panel 2, Congratulations… you’re Typical. Would you like to live a more sustainable

Panel 2 lifestyle? Reducing the amount of resources you consume is an easy place to start. Take a trip to your local grocery store and you’ll get an idea of how well Americans reduce and reuse. The typical scene is a parade of overly packaged foods marching down the conveyor belt into yet another shopping bag. Paper or plastic? It doesn’t matter. Bring your own bags next time and this parade will have a happier Panel 2 ending. When I’ve mentioned this simple step to friends, I’m usually met with lame excuses such as, “I don’t have any bags or I always forget my bags at home.” Yet, when I mention this to a German friend, she shows me 10 bags, which carry environmental slogans such as Schutzt unsere Umwelt! Save our world, according to her translation.

Why the difference? She grew up in Germany where they charge for bags, in America they don’t. Americans have become conditioned with abundance, which has made us complacent, believes Brian Biery, City of Pasadena Program Coordinator for Human Services Recreation Department. But the city of Pasadena is an environmentally progressive city that has many programs and workshops to address that complacency. These include rebate programs and workshops such as: solar energy, biodiesel [misprint – the city of Pasadena doesn’t offer such programs or workshops on biodiesel], water and waste reduction , recycling and composting.

Path to Freedom participates in these programs and takes advantage of the rebates offered. In recognition of their contributions, the city of Pasadena awarded them with the Outstanding Recycler Award in 2004.

Ursula Schmidt who works for Waste Reduction and Recycling for the City of Pasadena Public Works Department, indicates that as individuals become more environmentally conscious, “people will look more and more towards organizations like Path to Freedom to offer information and examples of what they’re doing and how they did it so that they can follow in those footsteps.”

Path to Freedom offers many educational outreach programs such as biodiesel and self-sufficiency workshops, tours for school children, seed swaps, community gardening, ecological-film screenings, participating in community events, and helping local businesses recycle used vegetable oil. Maruicio Mejia, Program Manager for the City of Pasadena’s Department of Water and Power says, “We’d like to replicate what they are doing in every home in Pasadena.

I’m sure it can be done with their help.”Whether you live in Pasadena or elsewhere, a great place to start down your own Path to Freedom is with their website at www.pathtofreedom.com. There you will find videos, pictures, articles, a journal, and e-books on how to live more sustainably. Biery comments, “What makes them truly unique is they have decided not to solely focus on their own lives but be an example and inspiration for others.” Mejia adds, “They are walking the talk. Everything they say, they’re doing it.” If you’re still unconvinced to start down the path, Dervaes has this piece of advice. Get started now because there is a gap to get to where you want to go and it takes a long time for things to ripen.

As I slowly creep towards home, contemplating whether I’m ready to make Panel 2 changes in my life, I imagine Robert Frost sitting in the passenger seat offering this encouragement: Two lifestyles converged in a Pasadena hood, the city and the Dervaes have chosen the Path to Freedom. And that is making all the difference.
Brian von Dedenroth is a public speaker, television and radio host/producer, and writer living in Ventura. He can be reached through his production company Royal Crest Media at brian(at)royalcrestmedia(dot)com.read pdf file of complete article (pg 28)


Well one out of two appointments went well. First the good news, the chimney is in good condition (whoohoo) and a wood stove could be put it. The guy was very impressed with the house being as old as it was (1917) how well the chimney was constructed and how well it looked at 90 years old.

However, there were two “slight” problems we’ll have to deal with:

1. the height of the chimney is not to code so the installed stove pipe would need to exceed height of chimney by 2′
2. the flue opening is smaller than the stove pipe so would have to drill out a couple of bricks to bypass small flue opening (this task would probably have to be done by a professional with the right tools and equipment)

Basically, it’s going to cost us more money than we had planned. There’s the cost of the stove, the parts (flashing, pipe, so forth and so forth) and the mason work that needs to be done to chimney so that the 6″ pipethat will be attached to the stove can fit up the fireplace.

As for the metal roof installation, the guy wasn’t very friendly and we didn’t like the way he treated us. He also quoted us about $5,000 more for installation that what we were told on the phone.   Okay, next.  Unhappy with him, we called two other guys and they will be coming out on Monday. We’ll see how that goes. 

In the kitchen…

Made up a large batch of pesto using a mortar and pestle then put the handmade pesto in ice cube trays to freeze for later use.

Put up the vegetarian chili in containers to be frozen.

Froze peppers and more peaches. Made another batch of apple butter, also peach butter and more peach jam.

Stirred the peach wine – have to stir every day now for four more days.

Sprouting another batch of alfalfa sprouts.

In the garden…

Picked more peaches, peppers, eggplant and basil.

The spent beans and few of the other “spent” summer crops in the raised beds are being turned over.

Fall plantings

Composting piling up ready to use

Order arrived with organic arsenal for the leaf miner – time to go into battle and save the citrus (they look so pathetic with their crumbled and yellowish leaves)

Up on the roof…

Everyone worked late into the evening yesterday putting up more sheets of plywood.
We still haven’t figured out exactly how to easily reinforce the sagging gable eaves. This ongoing situation is causing us some stress, yeah, like we don’t have enough already.

Making up and attaching brackets to help support the dropping eaves, a common problem on our type of craftsman bungalow, is a possibility but many who came by said don’t add something to the house if it wasn’t built with it. This old house would have been historic except for the room addition someone added many, many years ago.  


More garden work, roof work, harvesting, preserving … more researching on parts for the wood stove

With the steady supply of eggplant on today’s menu is eggplant parmesan

Bread to be made and baked in the cob oven outside (which helps keep the kitchen cool!)

No Comments

  1. Stephanie Griffith says:

    Hi guys. I just wanted to pop in and say hi. I liked the article. I will have to look for that magazine. It sounds like you are keeping very busy. We miss you!

  2. Bethany says:

    Great website- have been lurking for some time now. You all do wonderful work, give me wonderful ideas, and give me the push I (sometimes) need to be easy on our earth. Thank You!

  3. Roger Gray says:

    Oh boy — who did you get to do the inspection? We have been trying to get ours looked at and set up for a vermont soapstone stove for a couple of winters now . . . and now one wants to touch a chiminy for a stove . . . maybe its our 1903 house . . . But really, who’d ya use?!?

  4. Susan says:

    (if you do choose to do something) my carpenter husband suggests fake corbels with a knee brace. (if he is accurately understanding your problem)

  5. Anais says:

    Hi Stephanie and clan

    So nice to hear from you – thanks for keeping in touch. I feel so bad for not writing you… so I am GLAD you did.

    We miss you all very much, hope things are going well for you in your new home. Give the kidos hugs for us.

    FYI: the Hope Dance Magazine is a local publication. If we ever get our hands on some extra copies I’ll be sure to send them.


  6. Anais says:

    Hi Bethany

    Thanks for commenting. We love hearing from readers – especially the lukers! 😉

    We are certainly blessed that we are able to share our journey and offer inpsiration (and PUSHES) to fellow travelers like yourself.

    See you along the path,

  7. Anais says:

    Thanks Susan for the tip, much appreciated.

    We’ll look into it.


  8. Anais says:

    Hi Roger

    We had Eric of Wilshire Fireplace (on Raymond) do the inspection — ph # 626.564.8749 (Tell Eric — if comes out — that the folks that make biodiesel to run their black diesel suburban that live on Cyrpess referred him)

    I think our fireplace is in good shape because it’s NOT located on the outside of the house, instead it’s and interior fireplace.

    We are looking at one of the most efficient small stoves on the market – the JOTUL F 100. Eric said that this stove is an excellent choice (thanks to the hours of homework and research we did ) this small (and affordable) stove would be more than enough to heat our home – actually we may be too warm!!!!

    Good luck.


    sidenote it’s been commented that “Jotul (of NORWAY since 1853) is widely regarded as the best cast-iron stove manufacturer in the world.”

  9. Stephanie Griffith says:

    Hi Anais, no worries. I know how busy you guys are, especially in the summer. All is well with us. I will be sure to give the girls hugs from you. That bear you made Cheyenne is her favourite. She can’t go to bed at night without it.