When the average America thinks of high-profile humanitarian work, she probably thinks of Angelina Jolie. Of all the activist celebrities, only Jolie has become a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. She’s a glamorous celebrity, and I think that makes it easy to dismiss her, but in truth she has helped an extraordinary number of people. From the point of view of my very non-Hollywood life, she seems superhuman. She has six kids, acts in movies, and manages to devote a huge percentage of her time traveling to far off places to give back. I think we should all be looking to her for guidance. She has all the privilege in the world and yet, she uses her power for good! She could be basking in the spotlight, frolicking in the Riviera, and showing off her crazy handsome fiance. Instead, she works hard, every day, to make the world a better place.
New Orleans has been through a lot. Katrina famously demolished whole neighborhoods while residents, many of them poor, suffered. Some of the storm’s effects were immediate—massive flooding, cut-off emergency services, a lack of clean water or food—and others were longer-lasting—water-borne illness, violence born of desperation, lost insurance coverage, and unemployment (to name a few). Today parts of the city are still underwater, if metaphorically. The Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods because of the failed levees, has become a jungle… literally. As residents fled, streets were left without tending, and, in time, nature has taken over.