Friday, February 18, 2011

Brad Pitt’s “Make it Right Project”

Aha!  Bet Brad Pitt caught your attention!

We’ve moved on from New Orleans but I was so impressed with the “Make It Right Project” in the Lower 9th Ward that I wanted to share my photos.  According to the website they have completed about 50 of the planned 150 sustainable green homes.  The whole area was completely devastated by the 2005 hurricane Katrina and still looks very barren but the construction activity throughout adds a lot of life. DSCN3500

Quite an architectural feature-is that a swoop or a. . .? DSCN3479

The roofline of this yellow home appears to soar!  I wonder if the interior ceiling does the same?DSCN3486

Each family picks from thirteen architectural designs and also chose their own color palettes. It makes for a colorful 16 block area!DSCN3487

The homes are designed in a traditional New Orleans shotgun house style – narrow to fit the long skinny lots in the Lower 9th Ward. They also all include porches -- a feature highly valued in the neighborhood that places a premium on sociability and connectedness to the community.

An example of a New Orleans “double shotgun” house-two shotgun houses joined by a wall. A single shotgun house would be half this house.  The difference between a shotgun and what we would call a duplex is that there are no hallways- the rooms are lined up one behind the other.DSCN3408

All of the homes in the Make It Right Project are elevated--raised high enough to be above the Katrina-level flooding.  On previous trips through the gulf area we’ve been impressed by the many raised houses but there seems to be a movement to raise many more. Both here and in Galveston we noted many businesses devoted to elevating homes and businesses. DSCN3490

My thought about this house is that if not on “stilts” it would be a typical modern home.


Blue and yellow - very cheerful!DSCN3510

The Make It Right Project is an income-based program in which no family pays more than 30 percent of their income, including taxes and insurance, towards their housing costs. On average the contribution at closing from a family is typically about $75,000. Sometimes that's made up in the form of grants, but often by external financing sources like banks: traditional loan sources.   That $75,000 cash at closing helps offset the cost of the house, and then usually the difference between the resident's contribution and the sales price, which averages about $150,000, is made up in the form of a forgivable loan. The longer the family lives in the house, the more of the loan is forgiven.

Another interesting curving feature over the door, actually the whole length of the home.  All of the homes have solar panels on the roof.  In an interview on, Tom Darden, Executive Director of the project, stated that the energy bills for the homes average $35 per month (versus $350 in a traditional comparably-sized home in New Orleans.)DSCN3513

Interesting filigree ironwork and zigzag roofline on this home.DSCN3514

Another colorful home.DSCN3493

New Orleanians like their porches.DSCN3496

Our first impression was that these homes are WAAAY OUT architecturally and we wondered why they weren’t designed with a  more “New Orleans” flavor?  Somewhere I read that an attempt at conforming to traditional architecture would result in a faux and not authentic looking neighborhood.  Makes sense but they are still WAY OUT!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Journaling. . .revisited

Among the many many impressive items I noted in the display cases at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans were the journals and diaries.  Just think that it was important enough for them to write about their experiences that they made space for the books, notebooks, or pads in the heavy backpacks or sea bags they carried on their backs!  They often wrote in adverse conditions, maybe sitting in a foxhole, in the jungle, or even in a Higgins boat.

Here, surgeon Major Karlin recorded information about those he cared for.  He recorded the name and rank of the patient, date and time and the procedures he performed.



In 1942 P-40 Fighter pilot Randall Keator wrote in a little spiral notebook. “…  picked up a flight of bombers approaching from the north so all present squadrons took off to try and intercept them.”


In this Jan 28th entry in a pre-dated diary the writer notes “13th Day”, and writes “During the past couple days I have been busy on the flight deck…”


Very fine handwriting in this tabbed journal. Interesting knife handle isn’t it?


April 1944:  “The landing itself was slightly opposed. Our Buffalo and combat boat lead by some over anxious officers & NCO’s…”  I wonder if this beautiful leather-bound journal was a gift from a loved one?  Note the printed motivational quotes on the bottom of each page.  One reads “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Oliver H. Perry and on the opposite page is “A sound mind in a manly body.” Homer


The nurse who kept her journal in this three-ringer binder had access to a typewriter.


PFC James Aloysius kept a diary that eventually filled 12 of these little flip pads. After the war he refused to talk about his service and destroyed 11 of the 12 diaries.  (One of his aunts snuck this one out before he could destroy it.)  His grandson said that the mere mention of the subject was enough to drive him from the house. On this page PFC Aloysius writes “Gosh, it is hard to describe the way it felt. It was a sensation I’ll never forget.”


A member of the British Airborne kept his diary in his New Testament.


I’m guessing that this is just a sampling of little wartime diaries and journals.