By Amy & Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture Passionistas
This week a movie star rebuilds New Orleans, an Emmy dress gets auctioned for charity, and an author donates to a research center. Here are this week’s most inspirational pop culture moments.
Brad Pitt Rebuilds New Orleans One Eco-Home at a Time
Brad Pitt has been in the news a lot this week, but not for his latest movie premiere or even for rumors about his marriage to Angelina Jolie. Pitt has been in New Orleans during the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, that the actor has visited the city devastated by several disasters in recent years. Pitt and Jolie own a house in the area that Pitt adopted the Bg Easy as a second home after filming “Interview with the Vampire” in the region.
After the hurricane in 2005, he founded the Make It Right Foundation and has worked tirelessly to rebuild the area hardest hit by the floods, the Lower Ninth Ward.
To date Make It Right has built almost 50 eco-friendly houses from the ground up. The goal is 150. And these aren’t just cookie-cutter, boring, boxy homes. Pitt hired renowned architects to design custom tailored sculptural masterpieces for those who needed them most.
In addition to being green (using the latest cutting edge building materials and technologies), the homes are built on eight-foot elevations with roof escape hatches in case of another disaster.
Melba Leggett Barnes, the recipient of one of Pitt’s homes, told, “He has given me a house that I will be in until I die and I will be forever grateful for that.”
Clothes Off Our Back Auctions Sophia Vergara’s Emmy Dress
Last Sunday stars studded the red carpet for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards. As always, there were fashion highs and lows–from a stunning beaded number worn by winner Claire Danes to a highly debated gown donned by “Mad Men’s” January Jones. Luckily, fashion sense is subjective and there’s always something there to suit everyone’s taste.
That’s good news for TV fans and fashionistas with a little spare change in their pockets (at least $1,000 to start the bidding) and a desire to do good in their hearts (proceeds go to causes like Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Malaria No More). Once again the Clothes off Our Back organization actually put a celebrity worn gown on the auction block.
The item in question is a golden, strapless Carolina Herrera number, studded with gold and silver sequins worn by nominee Sofia Vergara. She might not have won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for playing Gloria on “Modern Family,” but the show took home the top comedy honor of the night. And, of course, Sofia looked stunning as always.
The winner of the gown might not quite fill it out the way that the Emmy-nominated actress Sofia Vergara did but they’re sure to feel good for helping the Clothes off Our Back Cause. And, contrary to popular belief, it really is better to feel good than to look good.
J.K. Rowling’s $15 Million Donation to M.S. Research Center
There was a time when Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling was on the dole, as they say in the U.K. The single mother of one was struggling to make ends meet when she started going to local cafes and writing about an orphaned boy with magical powers who lived in a cupboard under the stairs at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging.
Obviously a lot has changed for the 45-year-old, who is now reportedly the wealthiest woman in the U.K. with an estimated net worth of 647 million pounds (that’s almost $1 billion U.S. dollars). Yes, J.K. is one of the most inspirational pop culture moments in history.
The final “Harry Potter” book has come and gone and the last two films have wrapped production and will be winging their way to the big screen soon. But Rowling isn’t just sitting back and counting her riches.
It was announced this week that J.K. has donated $15 million to build a multiple sclerosis research clinic at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where she lives. The facility will be called the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, named for the writer’s mother who died of the disease at the age of 45.
Surely, Rowling’s generosity will set a good example for Harry Potter fans around the world.
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