As we looked toward the devastation of New Orleans, from the first moment, amid great pain, there were those of us who looked at the disaster as opening a (painful) opportunity. A chance to take a leadership position globally, to create something better out of the wreakage, to build Eco New Orleans: ‘A Shining Example for the Whole World’.
The tragedy wrought by Katrina provides a chance to do what Mayor Ray Nagin said George Bush told him after the head-bumping died down last week: New Orleans can be remade into “a shining example for the whole world.”
I don’t know if Bush actually said that, and if he did, it surely wasn’t an environmentally sound renaissance he had in mind. In fact, I’d be willing to bet my mortgage that, when they’re not figuring how to blame somebody else for the lethal federal foot-dragging just witnessed, many in the Administration are pondering schemes to enhance their personal assets via this disaster. “Shining” to them has a distinctly different meaning than what I’m talking about.
Needed is a new city paradigm. Call it Eco New Orleans, a place attuned to the definition of “sustainability” found in the 1987 Brundtland Commission: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Not just the city, of course, but the other places blasted by Katrina and Dubyanocchio’s five days of indifference. New Orleans doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and the Eco New Orleans I’m talking about extends for scores of miles in every direction.
With this discussion, posted 6 September 2005, Meteor Blades put into cogent thought and organization something that I vaguely outlined in my mind. With that Eco New Orleans, Meteor Blades cemented a position in my life as someone to respect, someone to listen to, someone who merits being listened to and acted on.
Well, perhaps Brad Pitt read Eco New Orleans or perhaps he arrived at it independently or … well, in any event, Pitt’s has the soap box and the resources to help make a reality of something that the current occupant of the Oval Office has shown little interest or concern in effecting.
In December 2006, Pitt convened a group of experts in New Orleans to brainstorm about building green affordable housing on a large scale to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. … the group determined that a large-scale redevelopment project focused on green affordable housing and incorporating innovative design was indeed possible. The group settled on the goal of constructing 150 homes … with an emphasis on developing an affordable system that could be replicated.
To demonstrate replicability, Pitt determined to locate the project in the Lower 9th Ward, one of the most devastated areas of New Orleans, proving that safe homes could and should be rebuilt.
one former resident’s plea to help “make this right,” inspired to [the] name “Make It Right” (MIR).
He is approaching businesses across the country to ‘adopt a house’ ($150k) and the site calls for donations as small as a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL).
“You can adopt a tankless water heater or a solar panel or a tree or a low-flush toilet,” Mr. Pitt said. “You can give it to someone for Christmas,” he said — instead of another sweater.
Part of the publicity efforts is The Pink Project, a series of pink blocks, moving from forms into home structures, that will be taken around the country to help bring attention to the project. And, well, the lighting will, of course, be solar-powered …
Associated efforts include Global Green,
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Global Green USA made a dedicated commitment to sustainable building in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. As part of that commitment, Global Green, in partnership with Brad Pitt, sponsored an international design competition during the summer of 2006, with more than 125 entries competing to design a zero energy affordable housing development … a dedicated and highly skilled team of sustainable design and building experts [is working ] to translate the winning design into a reality. Global Green broke ground on the project on May 10th and unveiled the first home under construction prior to the Second Anniversary of Katrina on August 21st.
The first home … is a showcase. All the final 5 single family homes and 18 apartments will be affordable green homes, not just in rent and mortgage costs, but operating costs and reduced health impacts as well.
In any event, here are a few of the MIR designs.