For Brad Pitt, the celebrities, musicians, and honored guests that attended his huge charity gala this past weekend all added up to one thing: more hope for the city of New Orleans.
Ever since Hurricane Katrina struck in the city in 2005, leaving a tragic wake of destruction and ruined neighborhoods, Pitt has passionately been pulling together the resources, brains, and visionaries to rebuild the city's Lower 9th Ward and put people back in homes.
“After Hurricane Katrina, many people said the Lower 9th Ward could not be rebuilt, but the spirit of the Lower Ninth and its residents is vibrant and resilient. Today, the neighborhood is growing and alive with new homes, playgrounds, gardens and block parties,” Pitt said last year.
The foundation the 48-year-old created, Make It Right, has been busy over the last several years building 76 sustainable homes - with the ultimate goal of 150. This past weekend, Pitt flexed his fundraising muscles to bring together those with deep pockets and continue that dream.
"Even though these people don't like me that much, it really was simple," Pitt joked to the AP.
Co-hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, the gala, titled A Night To Make It Right, featured such big names as Josh Brolin, Djimon Hounsou, Spike Lee, Blake Lively, Bennett Miller, Chris and Jada Paul, Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey. Rihanna, Sheryl Crow, the Neville Brothers, Seal, and even Kanye West showed up to perform. The chefs behind the gourmet dinner? None other than Giada DeLaurentiis and Emeril Lagasse.
Pitt hoped the event, which also featured an auction, would raise more than $4M for his organization.
Looking ahead, Make It Right is looking to take the model it has successfully implemented in New Orleans and apply it to other cities in need of sustainable design. Projects have already started in Newark, New Jersey, and Kansas City, Missouri.
"When we put the lid on the last house, it will be dollar-for-dollar the same price as a conventional home," Pitt says. "There will be no excuse to build any other way."