04/20/2006 at 04:00 PM EDT
Brad Pitt has a longstanding passion for architecture – and now he's putting it to good use by helping New Orleans as the city rebuilds after Hurricane Katrina.
Pitt and the environmental organization Global Green USA
are sponsoring the Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans, a contest to find an Earth-friendly plan for housing and community centers in neighborhoods ravaged by Katrina.
"Our goal is to kick off the rebuilding effort," Pitt told the Associated Press in a phone interview from Namibia Thursday. "It's certainly long overdue and I can only go from the reports that we get … that it's behind, absolutely. People are frustrated."
He continued, "We could possibly build something that was better and took into account the historical traditions of the city and the voices of the people."
The actor, along with Global Green president Matt Petersen, came up with the idea for the contest at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City last fall.
Although Pitt, 42, will serve as chairman of the jury when the winner is selected in August, he's currently in southern Africa – and awaiting the birth of his first child – with Angelina Jolie, 30, and kids Maddox, 4, and Zahara, 1.
"Namibia's just a country we're very fond of," Pitt told the AP. "It's a beautiful land and hospitable people and a place that we want to be for the time being."