After Brad Pitt toured the hurricane devastated region in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, he connected with community groups and families in the area, spurring a new movement and organization called Make It Right (MIR) in 2007. Since its inception, MIR has partnered with architecture firms to build sustainable housing solutions for those homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Kim Haddow, MIR’s Communications Director, “was attracted [to MIR] by how solutions-oriented this project is. They are asking the right questions. How can homes and communities be built to adapt –to survive and thrive in the face of a changing climate? How can energy efficient homes be made affordably for the working families who need the cost break the most? In a world of concepts and theories, I liked how hands-on the search for solutions is here at Make It Right.”
It is often difficult to understand and to witness first-hand how policies and theories may be applied to changing life on the ground. Kim describes how this “hands-on” approach at MIR came full circle at her first closing on a MIR home. She explains “the joy on the face of a sixty year woman who lost a home in the hurricane that had been in her family for generations. After so much loss and sorrow, it really is quite moving to see a family regain their footing – and on the same lot they owned before the storm.”
This closing is only one of 150 homes that MIR hopes to complete closings for in 2010 and 2011.
While MIR definitely has their work cut out for them in the Lower 9th Ward alone, they are not stopping there. MIR is “part of a consortium of builders and non-profits in Newark, New Jersey waiting to hear if we have been awarded NSP2 (Neighborhood Stabilization Program) money from The Department of Housing and Urban Development.” This would enable MIR to build “affordable green housing” in areas not only devastated by hurricanes, but also in areas suffering from economic crises.
And now what you have all been waiting for!
Kim told me that she has “seen Brad three times in 9 months – twice in New Orleans, where he likes to come in quietly and meet with homeowners and staff, and once in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative, which featured a session on Make It Right last September. He is always passionate and up to speed on the project and clearly cares about the homeowners. When he was in New Orleans for the 4th anniversary of Katrina (Aug 29), he showed up at a farewell party for our interns at a local bar – it made their summer (and stunned the other four people at the bar).”
Make It Right has definitely left its mark on the streets of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. As construction continues to both inspire and lead homebuilding efforts in The South, MIR is creating a model for “affordable green housing” all over the country and perhaps all over the world.
“Why not rebuild using the lessons we have learned in New Orleans?”
Please visit makeitrightnola.org to learn more about Make It Right and Kudos, Kim, for sharing your insight on Make It Right!
(Make It Right is helping to rebuild New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward through sustainable solutions.)