The On Being Project

Courtney E. Martin
Courtney E. Martin

is a columnist for On Being. Her newest book, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, explores how people are redefining the American dream (think more fulfillment, community, and fun, less debt, status, and stuff). Courtney is the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network and a strategist for the TED Prize. She is also co-founder and partner at Valenti Martin Media and FRESH Speakers Bureau, and editor emeritus at Feministing.com.

Courtney has authored/edited five books, including Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, and Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women. Her work appears frequently in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Courtney has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and The O’Reilly Factor, and speaks widely at conferences and colleges. She is the recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics and a residency from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre. She lives with her partner in life and work, John Cary, in Oakland, and their daughters Maya and Stella. Read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.

The Spiritual Tension of Local Loyalty and Global Responsibility

by Courtney E. Martin

There’s wisdom on the well-worn phrase “Think global, act local” — but does it come with a spiritual cost? On the heartbreaking tension between local loyalty and the greater good.

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The Spiritual Tension of Local Loyalty and Global Responsibility

A Couple of Truths About Adulthood That No One Tells You

by Courtney E. Martin

We equate adulthood with “having our shit together” — but there’s just as much clutter and confusion behind every successful grown-up we admire.

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A Couple of Truths About Adulthood That No One Tells You

Three Tensions at the Heart of Fighting Racism as a White Person

by Courtney E. Martin

The fruit of working for racial justice lies in the discomfort and the mess — but only if we acknowledge the lessons those tensions have to teach us. On negotiating the tricky path of making change with authenticity and constant self-reflection.

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Three Tensions at the Heart of Fighting Racism as a White Person

For Guys Reading #MeToo Testimonies

by Courtney E. Martin

#MeToo testimonies are flooding our social media feeds. And for men, realizing complicity can be uncomfortable. Our columnist sees this collective discomfort as a spiritual challenge — one that men must meet earnestly, first in themselves, and then in each other.

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For Guys Reading #MeToo Testimonies

So Who Cleans the Kitchen?

by Courtney E. Martin

From college dorms to cohousing communities, living with other people can be chaotic and messy. Our columnist considers that these tensions may actually be healthy and essential to building resilient community.

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So Who Cleans the Kitchen?

The Mental Bargain We Make When We Use the Word “Evil”

by Courtney E. Martin

President Trump called the mass shooting in Las Vegas “an act of pure evil.” Courtney questions why we use the word “evil” to explain such violence. And, she argues, why we should stop making that moral bargain.

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The Mental Bargain We Make When We Use the Word “Evil”

Seeing Our Mothers As People

by Courtney E. Martin

At a certain point, we come to the realization that our mothers have interior lives entirely separate from us. On the conceptual challenge of seeing our mothers as whole human beings.

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Seeing Our Mothers As People

What I Learned About Community from a Maximum-Security Prisoner

by Courtney E. Martin

An unexpected letter landed on our columnist’s doorstep the other day. It contains a surprising lesson on the meaning of community — and an opportunity to open up to a fellow flawed and striving human being.

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What I Learned About Community from a Maximum-Security Prisoner

Don’t Look Away

by Courtney E. Martin

Avoiding burnout from the endless news cycle is important, but so is staying meaningfully and personally present to urgent realities that deserve our attention.

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Don’t Look Away

A New Narrative of Whiteness Is Unfolding

by Courtney E. Martin

White supremacy is newly palpable in unsettling, violent ways. But what if our public conversation about race can encourage a new, redeemable, and joyful whiteness to come to the fore?

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A New Narrative of Whiteness Is Unfolding