Green Homes for the Ninth Ward

As if a real plan to build new homes for former residents of the Ninth Ward could get better, get this: they’re putting solar panels on top! A BBC story gives a few details of the plan and a little diagram of the house plans with their green features- they’ll also be collecting rainwater, and they have what appears to be a roof or wall garden.  The Ninth Ward was one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and rebuilding has been slower there, due partially to the lower incomes of the population impacted. The new homes will cost about $150,000 each. Families who can prove that they lived in the area before Katrina will be expected to contribute what they can towards the cost of the house.

Unfortunately, the BBC considers the big part of this story to be the fact that Brad Pitt is fronting the project (gratuitous Angelina Jolie picture!), so there’s not much detail (a few more details are at the Christian Science Monitor report, but they’re leading with Pitt, too).  I understand the man is in those talking pictures, and he has a great message, and he’s put up $5 million dollars of his own money in matching funds. That’s nice, especially the donation- that’s 33 whole little green houses! Now please tell me more about the green bits. This is inexpensive green home design meant for mass consumption- this is huge!  Not literally.  They’re building a better suburb.  I’m curious if this concentration of money and talent in pitching and designing and building inexpensive green homes is going to have an impact on the market for solar houses, and how.

There’s a website for the project, “Make it Right”, with a nice little video of Pitt talking, and a lot of information about the bright pink canvas shapes/art installations that stand in the place where the homes will be soon. They do have some of the ecofriendliest swag, though!  Organic cotton teeshirts and recycled pink bags.  Details of the actual homes are less specific, but there’s an interactive feature showing how much some of the house parts cost (solar panels: $25,000) and letting you sponsor bits and pieces.  So my ecocuriousity is not satisfied, but it’s a great project, and bodes well for green architecture and the people of New Orleans.

3 Responses to “Green Homes for the Ninth Ward”

  1. 1 Kestrel December 5, 2007 at 3:20 am

    How dare you, madam – how dare you! imply that Mr. Pitt’s efforts are anything less than the most noble of all PR stu- I mean, acts of philanthropy!?

  2. 2 virescent December 5, 2007 at 8:19 am

    But that’s just it- this isn’t just a PR stunt, but the media is covering it the same way they would when whatshername shows people her crotch and whosit gets arrested for a DUI. This is a necessary, well thought out, good-hearted project, and it’s innovative in combining high design with low income housing. They’re not slapping boxes together for these people, they’re making it art, and they’re making it sustainable, and they’re focusing attention where it belongs- on the people who’ve been waiting over two years to get back to what they lost in the floods. Somehow this is all more compelling than that lady going to jail, and it should be covered accordingly- they’re missing about 35 facets of the story.

  3. 3 Cameron December 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Yep, I think the website does a much better job at describing the actual houses then the article does. The only thing I can say is, when celbs through their weight (although most don’t weigh much these days) behind things, things get done. That is to say that celebrities know that people (and themselves) have short attention spans. I guarantee there is an ongoing documentary being filmed, specific families will be followed through the fruition of at least on phase of this project. And we’ll see this project at Sundance in about 2 years, with tear jerking sceenes and academy award winning soundtracks all around. Using one’s celebrity to get amazing projects off the ground has worked for Oprah and many other $$ heavy hitters, and i hope it works here. Not only for the green aspects and impacts, but for the humanitarian aspects. We have all feared that any “real” reconstruction efforts in New Orleans would slant towards large corporate and gentrifying stake holders. The area is politically known for corruption and foot dragging! Im not going to hold my breath, but I can cross my fingers that a “trendy” centric young American population will see Brad Pitt’s passion (clothes on) and make smart changes in their own lives!

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