courtney martin

courtney martin bw

engrave this upon your heart

taking Courtney in…

courtney martin site


ted, 2011

5:22 – we don’t want one hero

6:30 – apathetic? or deeply overwhelmed

7:45 – i will not stand for your desperation

at the end of the day, these things make for a lifetime of challenge and reward:

courtney martin slide


2007 – on her first book – Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters…


part of op-ed


Dena Simmons, and 7 others, in Courtney’s 2010 book:

do it anyway book


Courtney also brought people like Selena Sermeno to idec for us..


Cameron Russell did a fashion photo shoot with a handful of leading ladies to help raise awareness of their causes…

don't hate the player

In the last month, every time a TV producer has contacted me, they’ve wanted to see headshots — even though they’re reaching out in response to my TEDx talk, in which I talked about the need to include women in discussions about the media. (Not bios, or clips, or anything a sane person curating a panel would ask for.)

So we did a ridiculous experiment. We took five of the most badass media-making women we could find, and turned them into glamazons. We made a mockery of what media executives want. We got a hair stylist, a makeup artist, and a clothing stylist to dress them up in Chanel and Versace, give them faces full of makeup, and do their hair. Then we photographed and filmed them.

We wanted to know how their portraits would be received. How would videos of them talking about their work be shared and discussed? How would they personally feel about the transformation?

courtney in cameron russells


aug 2014:

I choose awe over bureaucracy today and every day that I have the luxury to do so.


oct 2014:

we still need a larger plan, says activist Courtney Martin.

Eleven months into motherhood, Martin says her daughter has only made her more passionate — radicalized even — around the issue of work-life balance. “I look at Maya and I just think I want the most equal, fascinating, safe world for her possible and I will do anything to make that happen,” she says.

As she pursues that world, Martin will support the solutions that are out there, while also putting into practice points she made at PopTech that took off in the Twittersphere, including showing up as her whole self and trusting her own outrage.

a people experiment. model another way..


oct 2014:

let your actions be inspired — not by goodness but by curiosity.

Let your goal be to humanize as many transactions as possible, not to make perfect decisions.


2014 – on being interview at poptech on rebellion – with Parker Palmer:

trust your own outrage – Courtney

robustness at holding that complexity – Courtney

complexity can only be held by community – intergenerational community – Parker

different horizons.. view points.. – Parker

self-labeling is dangerous stuff – do what you do – Parker

act of rebellion to show up as whole

a lot of very powerful people have no time to pause.. they don’t create those spaces.. some of the most unethical things in the world happen because of that cocophany – Courtney

in clinical depression – all my faculties were useless.. my emotions were dead.. my will was miniscule… the – i can make it one more day – that wild thing – the soul is like a wild animal. knows how to survive in places there’s very little to eat. but also like a wild animal.. it’s very shy. the safe space is where the wild animal can put in an appearance. (non-safe space – pushing it – elevator pitch et al)  – Parker

hacking – as the simplicity on the other side of complexity. even more important we create those spaces.. because things happen so fast.. we’re not creating those spaces. – Courtney

spaces of permission.

self-talk ness

a movement invites its critiques into the tent – Parker

to hold hope these days is to be a rebel – Parker


jan 2015 – shared silence

.. but at 3 pm on a Sunday when I look up from the newspaper, piled all around me, along with a coffee grown cold, and see John immersed in his own thing, I feel so ridiculously in love. There’s just something about it — being respectful and even defensive of someone else’s quiet is far more seductive to me than flowers or diamonds or any other artifice of chivalry. It means that you’re attracted to someone’s mind, that you want to give it space to fill and wonder.

I am so lucky to live with, to have lived with, people that guard my quiet, that need me there even when I have nothing smart to say, that know my presence as something far different than my performance. I might even be most myself in these shared silences.


june 2015 post on on being:

If you want to survive as a creative person, I think it really helps to have your own personal Tiger’s Nest, a place that is so remote that you forget to go there until it’s absolutely necessary.


july 2015 post on on being:


jan 2016



View at


ted2016 – the new american dream

the art of living well is practiced most masterfully by the most vulnerable..

1\ how should we work..? like our mothers..

labor is a way of knowing.. anne hamilton..  what we work on.. ie: knowing the human condition

interpretive labor ness

nothing linear from here on out

seriously consider ubi

2\ how should we live..? like our immigrant ancestors..

reclaiming village life.. interdependence..

people over 65 esp looking for these alt living arrangements

for too long we pretended happiness was king in castle.. turns out otherwise.. living intertwined with neighbors

radical hospitality: every single person is worthy of kindness.. full stop

revolutionary parenting.. wider range of adults to count on.. turns out adults are healthier too

less about investing in perfect family and more about investing in imperfect neighborhood

money has often made us dumb about reaching out

you might be a success.. by standards you have not yet honored..

you can’t buy your way out of suffering or into meaning..

biggest danger: achieving a dream you don’t actually believe in.. don’t do that..

eudaimoniative surplus..


we need a new story – dec 1 2016

Daniel is a friend, but more accurately, it feels like he is one of my lifelong conversation partners.


Daniel, a community organizer and theologian, can quote James Baldwin by memory and always knows just the right thing to complicate some pat notion I’ve cooked up. He introduced me to Abraham Joshua Heschel and Wendell Berry.


Exposing the lies of that story (that everyone currently and historically has an equal opportunity at wealth, housing, education, mental and physical well-being, etc.) is uncomfortable for a reason. It’s morally reprehensible. Daunting to own and *fix. It implicates people with privilege in a way that feels terrible because it is terrible.

* maybe not so daunting

we can.. another way..

we can’t not

How might we structure work and housing if we truly embraced the fact that every single American deserves food and shelter in a destabilized economy?

ie: hosting-life-bits via self-talk as data.. as the day (aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…)

In these times, when so much seems to be retracting and recoiling in fear, we must stretch our moral imaginations further and further than we ever thought possible.

courtney.. imagine deep.. a nother way book.. so doable..


dec 2016 – clarity

It was an earthly euphoria, one of the most grounded feelings, in fact, that I can ever remember having.

This is my person. This is my baby. They are both safe, sleeping. This is the snow. These are my strong hands on the steering wheel. This is my life. This is all there is. And it is so fragile. And beyond enough.


I’m just acutely aware of how much more accurately we weigh our own small lives when we touch into just how vast and inevitable loss really is. Time slows down. Our senses are empowered. The sound of a peacefully sleeping person that you love becomes what it really is, the most sacred sound in the entire universe.


when our instinct are smarter than our certainty

don’t think it’s just me. I think this is one of those marvelous human foibles. We have, at least a lot of us have, awesome instincts. If we listen hard enough to our own hearts, we notice when the whispers become fervent little screams: “That! That! That’s what I want more of. That’s what I crave to understand. That’s the kind of person/mountain/book I want to be near. That’s the way I want to feel.”

eudaimonia via listening to all the voices


I do know that for many of life’s most complex and worthy questions, answers can only be found in the mess of being with other humans.


It’s like we pin down our most mysterious, beautiful instincts like butterflies that just aren’t dead yet.

Which I suppose is all to say, *listen uncompromisingly to your instincts and never forget that you are **divinely stupid about them. It’s one of the great surprises of this hugely surprising life.

*holmgren indigenous law

**divinely stupid about them..? perhaps more.. manufactured.. stupid.. ie: science of people et al



Part of why we don’t talk cross divides is b/c it’s exhausting & we’re maxed out. My not-so-deep thoughts @onbeing:…

begs we do this first: free art ists (aka: all of us)

a nother way


fb share

This week for On Being, I grapple with my obsession/suspicion with efficiency. Would love to hear your thoughts.

The wisest part of me is suspicious of efficiency. The truth is, I’m also obsessed with efficiency.

It’s not only an extracurricular fascination — How could you not be intrigued by how the people you admire get important things done? — but, now that I have kids, being efficient is a survival mechanism. I simply couldn’t care for my children and make a living and nurture friendships and contribute to a community (and…and…and…) in the way that I want to unless I was extremely judicious with my time and energy.

perhaps it’s.. the systemic ness of.. what ‘getting things done’ entails

probably be more accurate to say that I’m suspicious that modern humans — myself included — overvalue efficiency.

It’s a useful mindset in all kinds of different contexts and for a variety of reasons, some of which are very noble. *We should absolutely, for example, insist that the process that people experiencing homelessness have to go through in order to find housing be redesigned. Eradicating redundancies and unnecessary bureaucracy, particularly those that poor people have to navigate to get access to basic care, is dignifying work.

rather.. we should absolutely make homeless ness irrelevant..

It was not only cheaper, it meant hours of conversation and exercise.

this is huge.. convo (and exercise) .. we’re missing.. in order to get things done..

begs we try a nother way.. based on 2 convos.. everyday.. as the day

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

It wasn’t really about getting it done. It was about being together.

hari addiction law


If there is evil here, it is as subtle as you or me, anyone with a beating heart, pointing a finger at one dead man as if the moral responsibility lay only with his cold corpse.

If there is evil here, it is complacency, and it is collective.

there’s a nother way to live.. for all of us


couple truths about adulthood

Maturity, as it turns out, is not really about filing systems or intricately maintained calendars. It’s about showing up in your imperfect form over and over and over again.


20 min interview w Ava DuVernay – on getting all the voices to the table


don’t get tired.. w/o you i’m invisible

you vote w your dollars

lovely.. but we can do better today.. we need a mech to listen to all the voices.. everyday..  as it could be

look into howard thurman


the girl who would not sleep:

The best, hardest part of parenting, at it turns out, is meeting your kid, over and over. Learning who they are. Trying to show up for that person and not someone else whom you’ve made up in your head.

perry sleep alone law.. et al

maté parenting law..  et al


question asked – all the feels in the dr’s office:

you know her best. What do you think?”

She had seen my mother’s intuition as instrumental, authoritative even beyond or at least in equal relationship with her white coat and many years of training. I realize that I’ve never even had a doctor that made me feel like the authority or go-to intuit on my own body, much less my daughters’ bodies. Even though I am, as I have written about before, the “keeper” of their bodies–the one who has fed and healed and snuggled and adored and, okay, obsessed over their bodies more than any other person on earth.

I felt less out of control and catastrophic. My daughter is sick. Together we will figure out why, and move toward solving it.

I don’t have to extract medicine out of this person, who holds all the power and discernment. I don’t have to convince her of anything. I just have to tell her what I notice and see what she notices, and together we will navigate our way back to Stella,

It was so small. One little question. And yet it changed my relationship to my own anxiety and my own authority, and it felt like a bit of a coup within the history of the medical establishment–two young(ish) women, both moms, determining what is valid information for decision-making on our own terms, together. It makes me wonder, particularly in this moment of pandemics and panic, how we might know our own bodies and talk about them in official rooms in ways that give us the best chance of coming together, rather than breaking apart.

2 convers as infra.. all the voices.. everyday.. how do you feel..