MakeItRightNola.org or Make it Right 9 is a Project to “revitalize” and “rebuild” a section of New Orleans. It is backed by Brad Pitt. And it is really just a way to make developers rich.
MakeItRightNola.org is a project to rebuild New Orleans 9th ward, but unlike Habitat for humanity projects which don’t differentiate by race, and are focusing rebuilding communities that are likely to survive the next Hurricane Katrina, MIR9 is building in a hazardous environment and doing so with racial prejudice.
The Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans is one of the richest cultural communities in the country and was, until Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005, a crossroads of families, music and social interaction in New Orleans. As one community leader aptly described it recently, the Lower 9th Ward had an ‘atmosphere of engagement that featured time spent with one another in dialog, in celebration of the music, words and history that make the Lower 9 so special.
With the rich history of the 9th ward you would expect a rebuild project to honor that history. Make it Right Nola is doing rebuilding on a House by House basis, a method that makes a large impact on the lucky but very few (the plan is to build 150 homes) people that it helps. The houses are being rebuilt in a district that is likely to suffer Katrina-esque flooding in the near future, and that does not lend to the sustainability which they set in their 4 over arching guidelines.
Illustration from MakeItRightNola.org showing Brad Pitt’s dream to bring Blacks up to the level of Whites in the 70’s
The only people who stand to benefit from MIR9 are the developers and construction companies. The new vision for the 9th ward of 70’s style homes with happy black families, is little more than a pretty image to get people to donate.
I supported Habitat for Humanity, and had several friends that went to work with Habitat to reconstruct homes in New Orleans, post Katrina. Those were and still are good causes. I don’t get that impression at all from MIR9.
The Project Site Says nothing of what percentage of your donation is going to be used to help families versus administrative costs. There is nothing on the site about how much they intend to raise so that you could figure out the cost per house.
Image from 1965 post Betsy Flooding
The 9th ward has for a long time been “cultural” which is Brad’s polite term for African American. The Ward was not ever entirely rebuilt at the 1965 flooding from Hurricane Betsy. Returning families to the ward maintains the segregation and economic divide that could possibly be overcome in such a tragedy. As sad as it is that these families lost their home, it was a catalyst to get them out of this hazardous environment. Most of the casualties in Hurricane Katrina were in the 9th ward because so little effort was put on preparing these “culturally rich” inhabitants to evacuate. Few of the residents of the 9th ward owned cars or had means to escape.
Of course I’m sure Brad was just trying to help, the same way he and Angelina were helping Africans by visiting them on safari, and adopting poor African children. Or the way the Pilgrims brought civility to the Native Americans.