20081227-the-goals7We just saw Benjamin Button which reminded us of 2 things close to our hearts…Brad Pitt and New Orleans.

20090102-built-to-last1150 homeowners in a still-devastated district of New Orleans get to choose from 13 customizable design models for new homes built for LEED Platinum certification and for withstanding storms. With a cradle-to-cradle lens guiding materials selection, the materials are not only to be made from sustainable resources but also intended to biodegrade if the houses ever do need to be intentionally destroyed. The first six houses were tested this August by Hurricane Gustav in the final stages of construction, and not a window was lost.

The model designs and pricing subsidies are funded by the Make It Right foundation, jumpstarted by a $5 million personal donation matching pledge by Brad. All models feature open porches – a nod to Southern culture and community – and five-foot elevations – to guard against inevitable floods. The house prices are $150,000 or less, and subsidized if this exceeds 30% of the deed owner’s income.

20090102-built-to-last2This is an example of how celebrities can use their clout to super-boost world-changing efforts. So far, 88 of the 150 homes have been fully sponsored. You can donate as little as $5 to help the 88th house get from $2,939 funded to $150,000 funded. The donation site is cool – you can virtually tour the house and see how much is needed to sponsor each feature, like solar panels or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Brad fell in love with the city during the filming of Interview with a Vampire (1994), was devastated to see its destruction in Hurricane Katrina (2005), campaigned to film Benjamin Button there in 2006 to boost its economy, launched the Make it Right campaign in 2007 to support its rebuilding, and bought his own home there with Angelina Jolie in January 2008.