Courtney Martin

Courtney E. Martin is a Prospect senior correspondent. She is the author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists (Beacon Press). You can read more about her work at

Recent Articles

Life and Death in the Climate Change Debate

As we push Congress to pass a climate bill, let's not forget the grass roots.

(AP Photo/Denis Paquin).Billy Brage, 6, of Philadelphia, signs a quilted flag on the Mall in Washington Saturday, April 22,1995 as part of Earth Day celebrations. Kids for a Clean Environment unveiled the flag containing colored squares made by children i
Elisa Young brushed her feathery blond hair back from her face, and her eyes grew teary as she looked at the panel of environmental activists and asked, "How do you keep up the fight under such difficult circumstances?" Young, who describes herself as a "survivalist, not an environmentalist" is a seventh-generation Appalachian and has been fighting coal-plant proposals in Meigs County, Ohio, for years. LaDonna Redmond, a statuesque African American woman from Chicago, responded immediately, "You just keep fighting. What else are you going to do?" She recalled her own struggle with neighborhood gang-bangers who didn't want her to open an organic food market in their area. She concluded with one of her trademark sayings: "Every community has the intellect to heal itself." Their exchange stands in stark relief to the current conversation about the environment in Washington. The House spent last week arguing over the specifics of the pending climate legislation , which is now headed to...

Don't Call It a 'He-cession'

Why are we pitting men against women? The economic crisis affects everyone -- and we can only fix it together.

A man and woman learn about employment opportunities at a career fair hosted by the University of Illinois. (Flickr/Jeremy Wilburn)
Just in time for Father's Day, Men's Health editor-in-chief David Zincenko penned a USA Today op-ed heralding the "Great He-cession" as one more example of how men are "an endangered species." Citing statistics about men's declining job security, shorter life span, and lack of government attention, he pits women against men in a delusional race for resources. He writes: "Let's think about men. It's about time we caught a break, and a he-covery would be just the thing." As if thinking about men would be a big societal shift. Zincenko's ingratiating use of cutesy prefixes and total neglect of historical fact aside, this sort of polarized punditry is exactly what keeps both men and women from making true progress. The truth is our fates are inextricably tied together, not running on two parallel tracks. When men lose their jobs -- and, indeed, they have at a higher rate than women recently -- American families all suffer, just as they suffer when women are paid unequal wages or fired for...

The Future of Philanthropy

New movements reacting against the "nonprofit-industrial complex" are pushing the funding world to give grants with fewer strings attached -- and to give directly to grass-roots groups.

Back in 2006, philanthropist sisters Swanee Hunt and Helen LaKelly Hunt struck up a partnership with the Women's Funding Network, an umbrella group for over 145 organizations that fund "women's solutions" globally. Together, they decided that they would strive to raise $150 million in three years for women's funds across the world. It felt like a real stretch, an outlandish number even for a group of women known for giving generously and having far reaching networks of like-minded philanthropists. Little did they know that the economy was on its way to tanking and they were about to be in competition with the most highly fundraised presidential election in history. But despite it all, Women Moving Millions -- as they would dub their unreasonable campaign -- managed to exceed its initial goal. One hundred women and men committed at least $1 million to one or more of the 145 members of the Women's Funding Network, bringing the total raised to $176,170,506. Women Moving Millions is the...

Honor Military Families with Adequate Health Care

The VA is still operating as if all of its patients are young, childless, and male -- and veterans' families are paying the price.

"I've had friends who showed up at their local VA [Veterans' Affairs] with children and were either chastised by their health care provider, or even refused services completely," Kayla Williams, author of Love My Rifle More Than You , testified last week in front of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs -- or at least the fraction of the committee that showed up for a roundtable titled "The Growing Needs of Women Veterans: Is the VA Ready?" The answer is clearly no. The VA's lack of readiness is not limited to its oft-discussed failure to provide adequate treatment for sexual harassment and assault survivors. The agency also falls far short when it comes to providing veterans' families – both women's and men's -- with readily accessible, quality health care. Currently, there is no federal mandate that VA centers provide any kind of on-site child care or child-care vouchers, leaving many veterans unable even to make their appointments. Many VA centers don't even have changing...

How Do Americans Really Feel About God?

The religious right's era of unquestioning Christianity is over. In fact, Americans have incredibly complex feelings about God and country.

At a conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Dalai Lama greets scientists with a traditional bow. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
Last year, I appeared as a guest on right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham's radio show. She and I were debating the merits of comprehensive sexual education, and something I said really set her off. "Do you even believe in God?!" she screamed. I could almost see the blond flyaways standing up on their offended little ends. Not usually flummoxed by blowhards like Laura, I have to admit I was thrown off. I took a deep breath and then answered, "I think, like most Americans, I have a complex relationship with the idea of God." "Most Americans," she spit back, "are Christian!" I had a hunch that her take on Americans' religious perspective was spuriously simple, but it was comforting to read the findings of a new report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life titled "Faith in Flux" that proves it. Building on a similar report last year, the Pew Forum looked at "the fluidity of religious affiliation in the U.S." and found that roughly half of U.S. adults have changed religion at some point...