Saturday, January 19, 2008


I've got a lot of time for Brad Pitt. Despite being one of those DNA sweepstakes winners who could just lay back and enjoy what Hollywood has to offer, he genuinely works at his craft and contributes greatly to expanding the variety of film experiences made available to all of us.

As an actor, he never fails to make interesting choices, from Tyler Durdin in "Fight Club" to Mickey O'Neil in "Snatch". And even as Rusty in the blockbuster "Ocean's --" trilogy, there's always something unexpected either on view or bubbling beneath the surface.

It's also doubtful that films like "Sleepers", "Seven Years in Tibet" or "Babel" would have even been made without his commitment to them, let alone achieved the success they enjoyed.

In short, he's a guy who sets out to surprise -- and always in a good way.

In an era where Hollywood stars would apparently rather champion causes like Global Warming or Darfur that are almost impossible for the average person to comprehend, let alone address; Brad Pitt has taken hold of one problem and set about using his wealth, influence and charisma to fix it. And he's done this in the same quiet, unassuming and yet surprisingly bold way he approaches his career.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history, hit New Orleans with maximum winds clocked at 175 mph. Katrina devastated 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast, causing $82 Billion in damage and untold human suffering as it flooded 80% of New Orleans.

The city's suffering was magnified when the US Government and disaster relief organizations failed to adequately respond and, more than 2 years later, New Orleans still has less than half its pre-storm population, with many of its inhabitants still struggling to rebuild their once unique and vibrant way of life.

Adding to these difficulties is what author Naomi Klein and others have described as a well laid plan to grab valuable real estate from poverty stricken Black families, implemented nothing less than a sophisticated scheme to ethnically cleanse the city.

Enter Brad Pitt and the "Make It Right" project. Starting with $5 Million of his own money, a sum quickly matched by philanthropist Steven Bing, Pitt commissioned 13 architects to design affordable, environmentally friendly housing and contracted suppliers, effectively launching the project.

Now he needs your help.

The first stage of the MIR project, scheduled to be completed over the next two years, will see 150 homes built in the completely devastated Ninth Ward of the city, proving that New Orleans can be rebuilt for those who have always lived there.

But plans are afoot to expand to other neighborhoods and build thousands of homes, basically whatever it takes to make New Orleans whole again.

It's a job that could have easily been done by Government or by the corporations who profited from the city. But it appears they developed other, more selfish agendas, with one of the city's Congressmen even praising Katrina for accomplishing the "clean sweep" the city's power elites could not.

But it's one thing to bulldoze poor and powerless people. It's quite another to attempt the same tactics against a charismatic movie star willing to stand up to the powers that be.

So far, online donations have ensured that 66 of the initial tract of 150 homes will be built. That's an average of one home for each day the campaign has been running.

If you're interested in helping or simply in purchasing one of the slouch caps Brad has made his trademark, you can do so by logging on here. Every dollar you contribute will go toward building someone a home and returning a great city to the vibrancy it once enjoyed and shared with the world.

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