WWNO – March 13, 2012


Brad Pitt took some time away from planning his A-list fundraiser for the Make it Right housing project he founded in the Lower Ninth Ward to give an update to WWNO’s Eileen Fleming. In Part 2 of the interview, Pitt continues with his thoughts about the long-term goals of the energy-efficient designs he champions, and if he sees any signs of Katrina fatigue among donors still needed to finish the plan.

Q. You’re moving on to Kansas City, I believe, and to New Jersey and folks are like. ‘Oh no. Is he leaving?’

A. “No. No. No. It’s not moving on at all. It’s things we’re going to be able to do simultaneously. As I said, what we learned here we cannot keep it a secret. It’s too big a news. It can benefit too many people. I mean, imagine if all our homes are built under these mandates. I mean, these are homes that are producing more energy at times than they’re consuming, that are not built with toxic materials, that … the social impact of this neighborhood alone is much more far reaching than we even understand at this point. And we need to share that knowledge. As I’m telling you, this is a very special neighborhood. There’s no other neighborhood like it in the US. And we need to get that message out. But no, we’re not – we’re absolutely not leaving. What’s interesting, though, there are many areas in the US and even globally, that we’re also expanding into Ethiopia doing a TB clinic under the mandates of MIR. But there is money in place in other parts of the world that are already, already have these building plans. And so we can come and say, ‘Let’s do it this way’ with money that’s already allocated. The Ninth Ward was built on literally donations and the kindness of strangers who all felt moved by what we saw after the levee breaks.”

Q. I want to give you a chance to respond to critics who say the houses are too expensive and they’re taking too long. Any thoughts on that?

A. “Well, again, we’re trying to build a new paradigm. And these homes are, of course, the first prototypes are going to be more expensive. And then which each one we build we’re getting the price down, and we knock ‘em down and we knock ‘em down. And I’m telling you, we are building them now at a competitive price. But it’s also – it’s not just dollars for donuts. What you also have to understand is what I was speaking about earlier of the social impact of these kinds of neighborhoods. They don’t contribute to global warming. They don’t pollute the environment. Just the savings in our offcuts on what — we put very little in the dumpster for landfills, which is very, very expensive and toxic. We’re driving health bills down, which is a burden on all of us, because we all foot that bill. And these homes will last longer. And if there were to be another storm at the degree of Katrina, these homes will still be standing here. They’re rated for that kind of storm, which means repair bills will be less. There is – we have to really do a cost analysis – but there is certainly not a dollar for donuts, so to speak. We’re trying something new so It takes a little longer, but, again, what I think the impact 50 years from now, when we’re building everything this way, we’ll look back and realize the stake we put in the ground was a revolutionary moment. And I believe that.”

Q. So it’s about half-way?

A. Yes. It’s about half-way. But what you have to understand is that price. We’ve driven that price down so low now that we’re replicating these homes, that they’re going to keep going lower and lower.”

Q. You’re an international citizen. You’re around the world. Are you feeling, or are you feeling any Katrina fatigue because it’s been a long time since that storm and other things have happened. Are people tired of hearing about New Orleans in other areas?

A. “No. I don’t think it’s New Orleans specific. I think it’s we’ve been suffering. We’ve had a beleaguered economy and people are in difficult times. We’ve also gone through tornadoes and nuclear reactor-tsunamis and there’s been a lot of catastrophic events since. I don’t see it as fatigue of care and spirit for others. I see it as simply people are depleted in their own lives and having a difficult time on their own. And with the mortgage crisis, until we get this economy back on it’s going to be, you know, it’s going to be slim givings.”

Q. And this project is, what I think you’re saying, is that it’s going to expand internationally as well, and take the technology here and move it to other places?

A. To expand it. To the seed that was planted here, to plant more seeds in other areas, because I am telling you, this is a new paradigm. And there is no reason to build any other way.”

Q. Thank you sir.

A. “Alright. Thanks.”