I have new reasons to be a fan of Brad Pitt (as if 'Meet Joe Black', 'Legends of the Fall' and 'Benjamin Button', to name a few weren't enough!). The work of his 'Make it Right NOLA' foundation in rebuilding the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans is incredible.
Homes that are affordable for low income individuals and families, safe and tremendously energy efficient are not only possible, but they have lifted the spirits of people who have survived one of the greatest catastrophes in our country's history.
I find it hard to believe that there is no market based complement to such an effort. Although its not shown in this clip, it is heartwarming, to see Pitt interacting with Lower 9th Ward residents - not just writing a check. He's building more than houses. He's doing more than showing commitment. And it's going beyond compassion. He's showing that people who truly care about other people can do remarkable things when the recognize our common destiny.
Brad Pitt is not the only one giving me a new reason to admire them. Wendell Pierce (HBO's 'The Wire' and 'Treme'), is a New Orleans native who is helping to rebuild Ponchartrain Park, an historic African-American neighborhood in the Crescent City. It's an impressive effort of community organizing, self determination and sense of home and place which is admirable on fronts too numerous to list.
These are two men using celebrity and wealth to turn devastation and despair into hope for a people who need to know their connection to the larger world. If it can happen in New Orleans, where can't it happen?!