The responses to Hurricane Katrina have been varied to say the least. Varied in the sense that certain groups gave a lot after the disaster, while others gave very little (and slowly). Also varied in what those people gave back. When my Mission Team went to New Orleans this past March we were especially drawn in by the differences we could see between the “Brad Pitt Houses” and the “Musicians Village.” I apologize for the quality of these pictures (taken through a car window). The top and bottom were taken in the “Musician’s Village” and the middle photo is of one of the “Brad Pitt Houses.”
Both represent generous donations from celebrities after Katrina, executed in glaringly different ways. We drove through both areas in our embarrassingly white university-stamped van. Never mind the houses looking out of place in New Orleans, we most definitely were.
The Brad Pitt Houses are a futuristic, solar-paneled bunch. This must be what houses in Whoville look like… On Pitt’s “Make it Right” page it reads, “Pitt promised the families he met there, that he would help make it right. He founded Make It Right to build 150 affordable, green storm resistant homes for families living in the Lower 9th Ward when the storm hit.”
So the thought behind it is truly admirable and he’s actually had a lot of success in building these houses and potentially saving future lives. But there’s no getting around the fact that they stand out.
The Musician’s Village, on the other hand, fits in (in a crayola-colored sort of way). The Musician’s Village was a project conceived of by Harry Connick Jr. Connick has familial and personal ties to the city, and is, of course, a fabulous jazz musician. The village that he has helped to build has a different goal than Pitt’s. His website reads, “A central part of this vision is the establishment of a focal point for teaching, sharing and preserving the rich musical tradition of a city that has done so much to shape the art of the past century.”
So which is more important? Connick’s vision helps to maintain the image and culture of a historic city. Pitt’s project, however, assures that people will be safe from another potential hurricane. I’m not really sure what I think…even after all our discussion. As a history lover, I have to side with Connick, but being the left-brained person that I am it makes sense to support Pitt’s houses which have taken safety precautions for the future.
Take a drive and make your own opinions. Which do you think is doing a better thing for New Orleans?
Where: New Orleans, LA
When: Drive through during the day, don’t be sketchy