The New Better Off Reinventing the American Dream

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 9/13/2016
  • Publisher: Seal Press

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Are we living the good life—and what defines 'good,' anyway? Americans today are constructing a completely different framework for success than their parents' generation, using new metrics that TED speaker and On Being columnist Courtney Martin has termed collectively the "New Better Off." The New Better Off puts a name to the American phenomenon of rejecting the traditional dream of a 9-to-5 job, home ownership, and a nuclear family structure—illuminating the alternate ways Americans are seeking happiness and success.

Including commentary on recent changes in how we view work, customs and community, marriage, rituals, money, living arrangements, and spirituality, The New Better Off uses personal stories and social analysis to explore the trends shaping our country today. Martin covers growing topics such as freelancing, collaborative consumption, communal living, and the breaking down of gender roles.

The New Better Off is about the creative choices individuals are making in their vocational and personal lives, but it’s also about the movements, formal and informal, that are coalescing around the New Better Off idea—people who are reinventing the social safety net and figuring out how to truly better their own communities.

Author Biography

Courtney E. Martin is an author, entrepreneur, and weekly columnist for On Being. 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, and her work appears frequently in national publications such as 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, and their daughter Maya, in Temescal Commons, a co-housing community in Oakland. Read more about her work at courtneyemartin.com.

Table of Contents


How Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?:Thinking Differently About Vocation

Working Alone, Together: Flexibility and Friendship in a Freelance Era

Norma Raes for a New Century: How Labor, Power, and Care are Being Remade

The Wisdom of Enough: Making Sound Financial Decisions in a Culture that Overvalues Money

Fighting to be Whole: How Men are Falling in Love with Fathering

Harnessing the Wind: Directing Attention Where It Matters Most in an Age of Distraction

The End of “Mine”: How Our Relationship to Ownership is Changing

Tearing the White Picket Fence Down: The End of Our Romanticization with Ownership and the Reclamation of Community

Re-growing Our Roots: The Power and Complexity of Investing in Your Local Community

Ritual Remixed: How We Make Meaning and Mark Moments Amidst the Chaos of Modern Life

The Thread of Revelation: How to Create Communities that Make Us Ask the Hard Questions


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