July 18, 2024

looking future 2020

a cropped photo of mount rainier in summer with bright green forest below
photo caption: a very cropped photo of mount rainier looming over a green forest. here’s something that barely changed in 2020. moved maybe an inch, lost some glacier, got some back. all in all, a pretty good year.

Around the time I started this website back in 2019, I listened to a podcast by one of my role models, Vu Le. Vu’s blog Nonprofit AF has helped me throughout my career. On this podcast, he gave a piece of advice to up-and-coming bloggers that boils down to this: write. Get yourself a schedule and stick to publishing something on that schedule. Not every week will be your best work, but you will write more and get better when you write with regularity.

Earlier this year I committed to posting a new blog post every Friday. I decided to do a little navel-gazing and document my five favorite blog posts of the year. For people who don’t visit my site every week, this is my chance to show off some posts I’m proud of.

we aren’t heroes in a system we thrive in

Being human means we are fallible. We can make mistakes, pivot, and try again. Being human means we are not mere enforcers of the system, we are part of it. In this age, it’s time for us as humans to stop and think. Who created the system we now reinforce? Who was it created for? Which of our policies exist to serve people in need, and which ones exist to serve us?

power is magic

Some people in power convince themselves that they alone have the right answer. They might believe their place in the system grants them that exclusive power. They may think that empowerment can function as a token or rubber-stamp of their plans. When I work to empower the communities I serve, I keep in mind this truth: given power and the authority to wield it, someone might act a different way than I would have. True empowerment must include giving up my ability to veto decisions I wouldn’t have made.

the stars belong to us

Near the end of the walk to the car, we reached a clearing in the woods. In the clearing I looked up and saw more stars than I had ever seen, at least since I was a kid. I gawked and spun, only looking up, at the billions of stars that are visible from earth. It remains one of the nicest and most vivid memories of my life.

just stay alive

I have to be really honest here. The longer we work in the systems that were built to oppress us, the longer it will take before we’re free. I grew up internalizing the “twice as good” rule. What I’ve learned is that even after a decade doing what I do, I am still setting my own performance expectations that high to be seen as worthy. And it is still not enough to bend the perspectives of the people holding the keys.


Some believe they can live an entire life in an artificial white supremacist society and emerge unbowed. Or in the space of a single (optional) two-hour session, these leaders will be able to do the new work we must demand. They believe they can use the same equipment and film they have always used. The techniques that feel natural to them. The discomfort that can last for sheer minutes before they insist we change the subject. And the faint awareness, almost out of frame: the only truly moral act that people now in power can take is abdication.

Thanks y’all, see you next year!

photo of josh martinez

my name is josh martinez. i have always loved trying to understand systems, and the systems that built those systems. i spend a lot of time thinking about how to get there from here.

i own and operate a consulting practice, Future Emergent.

say hello: josh[at]bethefuture.space