George Lucas, the multibillionaire filmmaker behind the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, has pledged half his fortune to charity as part of The Giving Pledge, led by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.
Now he’s bringing the charity closer to home, with a plan to build 224 units of affordable housing at his own cost on property he owns.
When pressed to describe his faith, Lucas has called himself a “Methodist Buddhist.” His parents raised him as a Methodist but he was influenced by his studies of worldwide mythology as he developed the Star War films. Many see Buddhist teachings at the core of the religious worldview of “the Force” they describe.
In Marin County, where Lucas lives and the housing would be built, the “affordable housing” income standard, 80 percent of local median household income, would be approximately $72,700 per year. The plans Lucas submitted to the Marin County Development Board for review this week include a community center, pool and orchard, along with 224 units for seniors and working people, on 52 acres.
The orchard brings to mind the two-acre citrus coops that my great-grandparents and their friends lived on in Southern California. These, too, were “charity” projects during the Great Depression, although it was the federal government that made these land and water grants available to citizens in need. They provided food and an income at a time when both were hard to come by.
My father remembers the little farms that each of his grandparents operated as havens: places where he learned that a ripe lemon warm from the tree is tasty, even to a child, and that swiping the biggest peach on the tree as his bike sped out of the yard was not a way to keep Grandma happy.
Lucas, entering retirement from his filmmaking career, has taken steps into philanthropy over the last two decades, beginning with the establishment of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in 1991.
Today, Lucas says he wants to build homes that will allow people like teachers who work in Marin to live there.
May the force of our God be with him!
Washington Post: George Lucas Wants to Build Affordable Housing