Having listened to one former resident's plea to help "make this right," Pitt was inspired to name the project "Make It Right". (source)
So in December, 2006, Make It Right was born, and the chosen target area was the most devastated area in New Orleans. This would be an extraordinary challenge financially, spiritually and intellectually, and Brad knew that he would need to attract a lot of attention locally, nationally, even internationally, to make it work.
(photo by Mac McKinney)
The Pink Project
One day while shooting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad noticed a pink fabric house on the set and had a sort of epiphany about this color. It is vibrant, potent, dynamic. It speaks to growth and the future, not the past and he realized that it could become, if handled right, the key to promoting the Make It Right Project.
Brad was soon working with a unique business named GRAFT, one of the wildest, most innovative architectural firms out there, a firm, which its name might suggest, that grafts art onto architecture, and in fact, grafts any style, concept or even discipline onto architecture, so long as it works. They are all about breaking through barriers and limitations, and GRAFT also incorporate film-making into their creative projects, and has even created commercials and videos. Now all these talents would become indispensible to designing and implementing a living infomercial/fundraising project on the scale of a Christo art project, a project meant to catch the attention of the whole wide world.
Thus Brad Pitt and GRAFT began conjuring up fantastic plans to turn the whole Lower Ninth Ward into a shocking pink art project. They were soon soliciting other architectural firms and businesses and just plain volunteers to join in this great visual adventure as it evolved. What first manifested on the drawing board was a giant tangram puzzle, a tangram being a Chinese dissection puzzle whereby a square is cut into five triangles, a square and a rhomboid, and then reassembled into various multiple designs. This became the paradigm of the project: deconstruction to reconstruction.
What was ultimately decided was that 150 giant pink "squares" representing the future 150 Make It Right homes would be "dissected" into their component parts and chaotically strewn about the Ward. Then, over a five-week installation/fundraising period, the 150 symbolic houses would be reassembled, one at a time, as each component was "purchased" by a donor. It would also be GRAFT's job to film and photograph every aspect of what soon became known as the Pink Project and put it out to the national and international media.
On the purely engineering level, the components would be constructed of tubular aluminum frames and pink fabric sleeves would then be stretched over them. To truly make the project a spectacular visual triumph, at night 350 lights would be focused on the components and, as each symbolic house was completed, its lights would be placed within, so that the entire structure would glow soft pink against the night sky, so that ultimately, the entire Lower Ninth would be glowing pink. Finally, in a further act of profound symbolism, 1000 solar candles would be arranged on the ground to mirror the constellation in the sky on that night in August, 2005 when Katrina struck, not only highlighting the installation, but commemorating the thousand or more dead in the Lower Ninth Ward. Indeed, the entire event was symbolic of the initial destruction wrought by Katrina, scattering its 14,000 inhabitants and their homes to the winds, and then moving onto the step-by-step reconstruction, with growing and growing international support, culminating in a fabulous collective, artistic triumph for both the Ward and the world.
On December 3, The Pink Project was officially launched, as Brad Pitt held a press conference to announce the endeavor as both symbol and fundraiser for the Make It Right Project. Earlier in November he had already pledged $5,000,000 to the effort, challenging others to match it. Environmental philanthropist Steve Bing actually did so. Brad officially called the fundraiser the "Adopt a House Campaign", asking foundations, corporations, churches, individuals to adopt a house or houses, a quarter of a house, a tree, a solar panel, whatever one can afford.
Brad garnered immediate mainstream attention, as you can note in this video: (click here to watch). The donations soon began flooding in as the word spread nationally and globally, and the pink houses started going up in response. Below are five pictures indicative of each of the five weeks of the project duration, shot by Mavis Yorks: