Profile for Courtney Martin

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4 Lessons I Learned About Resilience From The Survivors Of 9/11

I’ve heard friends say that this past week of being inundated with 9/11-anniversary footage and commentary has been overwhelming. I can more than empathize. As the co-author of Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors, I spent close to two years steeped in interview footage of those who had been directly affected by 9/11 testifying to their experiences of great, unthinkable loss and slow, but sure recovery. The book is a companion to a film of the same name, which premieres at 9 p.m. (EST) on Sunday on Showtime, and both move away from the sensationalistic images of the planes flying into the twin towers and political debate about wars and terrorism. Instead, they focus directly on the stories of individual human beings—in pain, in love, and in recovery.

It turns out that even when your grief evolves within the context of a national tragedy, it is still private and, in that sense, universal in so many ways. We all lose. We all have to pick ourselves up after loss. I learned a lot about grief from the survivors I wrote about, but I learned even more about resilience. Here are a just a few of those precious insights. Keep reading »

Soapbox: You’re Sexy Without The Life-Threatening High Heels

You may have thought the weekend’s biggest news was the hurricane, but there was something even more shocking afoot: People magazine reports that Victoria Beckham had been spotted in flats! Forget telltale signs of climate change via drastic weather patterns; the apocalypse is surely upon us when Posh Spice is willing to be caught on camera without her signature stilettos.

Okay look, at the risk of being typecast as a fashion allergic feminazi, I have to just come right out and say it: I am, generally speaking, against high heels. Why, you might ask, have I joined the ranks of sensible aunts and foot doctors everywhere? It’s about as simple as this: I don’t think women should participate in activities that physically harm them or curb their capacity to get up and go should the situation call for it. I believe there are less limiting ways to look pretty.

I get that they’re sexy as hell. Keep reading »

Celebrity Activist We Love: Rosario Dawson

At a time when young celebrities are often ridiculed for their criminal hijinks and pseudo-activism, it’s important to remember that there are folks in Hollywood who actually want to use their celebrity for good. Take actress Rosario Dawson. Keep reading »

3 New Must-See Documentaries

I am a sucker for a good documentary. In my humble opinion, “The Times of Harvey Milk” was way better than the Sean Penn-fest, “Milk.” I find that real life is just too terrible and wonderful all on its own to need fictionalizing. And so, I was hyped to go to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival this year, which took place last weekend in Durham, North Carolina. This was Full Frame’s 13th year. In addition to the usual programming of great new documentaries from all over the world, there was a series on labor (apropos, huh?), curated by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (of “The Last Truck: Closing of the GM Plant”).

Of the 17 films I saw in those blurry-eyed three days, here are my favorites. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: Is Canceling The New Black?

A couple of strange things have happened on my way to adulthood. Perhaps the biggest: that my days of impromptu diner eggs with friends at 4 a.m. have faded into official coffee and drink dates. No longer can I meet my bestie up on the roof that connected our Brooklyn brownstones. Now if I want to see her, we make a plan at least a week in advance. I’ve (gasp!) started keeping an Outlook calendar. Turns out that it takes a little official planning to keep track of a grown-up life.

Even stranger, I’ve started adding question marks at the end of my appointments. Coffee with Sarah? Supposedly, but she always ends up canceling. A drink with Paul? I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s gotten to the point where I will sometimes double-book, knowing that the chances of one of my friends ditching is almost guaranteed. Is it just me, or have social conventions changed around how comfortable people feel canceling on one another? Keep reading »

Why I’m Avoiding The New Slew Of Pro-Vegetarian Books and Movies

I feel like Jonathan Safran Foer is stalking me. OK, maybe not the actual guy—he’s got a beautiful, ridiculously talented wife, some kiddos, and a new best-selling book called Eating Animals, which Natalie Portman says made her go vegan, so no, he’s not actually stalking me. But I feel like he is, in the same way that I feel like Michael Pollan (who penned The Omnivore’s Dilemma) is, in the same way I feel like Robert Kenner (who made the film “Food Inc.”) is, in the same way that I feel like Barbara Kingsolver (who wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) is. They’ve all created what I hear are persuasive, fascinating, and sometimes terrifying books and films about food that will inevitably change the way I think about every little thing I put in my mouth forevermore. But honestly, I just don’t want to hear it. Keep reading »

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