The Best of Both Worlds
Cohousing offers both privacy and community—the best of both worlds!
Directed by John de Graaf
Writer: John de Graaf
Editor: Greg Davis, Doug Stanley
Camera/Sound: Doug Stanley
Music: Michael Bade
Content Advisor: Charles Durrett
Narrator: Jackie O'Ryan
Originally a Danish creation, cohousing struggled to gain popularity in its country of origin for years. That is, until a film was made that explained its merits and how people found it enhanced their lives. Now a new film by award-winning filmmaker John de Graaf (AFFLUENZA and REDEFINING PROSPERITY) promises to have the same effect on U.S. audiences.
"An inspiring overview of an important housing trend that offers a new way of living for the future." Stephen Wheeler, Prof. Human Ecology, UC-Davis
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS explores the concept of cohousing as expressed through first-hand observations of residents of four cohousing communities—including the first one in the United States—and observations by architect Charles Durrett, who brought the concept to the US from Denmark.
Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2020
Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-37-2
"An inspiring overview of an important housing trend that offers a new way of living for the future. This short video provides great material for class discussions about how to rethink community and live more sustainably."
Stephen Wheeler, Professor of Human Ecology, University of California-Davis, Author, Radical Questions about Sustainable Communities (forthcoming)
"So timely. A beautifully done film - Sign me up! Cohousing promises to help alleviate many of our most vexing contemporary social problems, such as isolation, loneliness, alienation from nature, and consumerism run amok. Seeing how well cohousing works for several California communities left me eager to learn more, especially how cohousing might be adapted to other geographic regions and to areas of existing housing stock."
Carol Medlicott, Associate Professor of History and Geography, Northern Kentucky University, Editor, Communal Societies
"A valuable addition to any sociology, urban planning, and community engaged curriculum...Viewers are reminded that intergenerational communities with private homes and shared public spaces can be both environmentally responsible and economically resourceful...This film is an excellent resource for anyone who would like to learn more."
Melinda Messineo, Professor of Sociology, Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement, Ball State University
"Co-housing is likely a big part of our future, much bigger than we might think. With its kids-and-seniors-friendly and environmental benefits, it certainly should be...Watch this lovely, revealing and inspirational film. Highly recommended!"
Gus Speth, former Dean, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, Author, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
"Co-housing is the best of all worlds - good for the planet, our economy, our security, and most importantly, our happiness."
Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace US, Author, The Story of Stuff
"The Best of Both Worlds, Cohousing's Promise shows what I've been lecturing about all over the world (in 82 countries) as human's natural state. The nuclear family does not work great in any country. Our natural state is tribal, as so exquisitely shown in the movie...I have been pushing for communal living for 50 years, to address climate change, economic disparity, and mental health issues. With the film, everything has been made easier. What a great way to transition into tribal life."
Patch Adams, Physician, Activist, Author and Founder of The Gesundheit! Institute
"A charming and inspiring film that shows how people are recovering community in our time."
Lance Bennett, Director, Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, University of Washington
"If you wish you knew your neighbors, if you like the prefix 'eco,' if you could use a few more hugs, if you think downsizing sounds good and wonder why the Danes are so darn content, you'll enjoy watching this John de Graaf film. It explains an alternative way of living that is social, economic, sustainable and, frankly, radical."
Rick Steves, PBS and NPR host of Travels With Rick Steves
"Cohousing offers compelling answers to so many of our ongoing crises: ecological, social, and spiritual. It seems certain this movement will keep growing - but faster now, because anyone who watches this movie will find themselves wondering, 'why not me?'"
Bill McKibben, Educator, Environmentalist, Author, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
"Our nation is faced with urgent housing needs and more and more residents look for innovations in the housing market that combine affordability and comfort. This informative, fast-paced film convinced me that cohousing is one of those solutions...I am now promoting cohousing here in the city of Vallejo as an alternative to larger developments."
Bob Sampayan, Mayor of Vallejo, California
"The benefits of intentional community are beautifully illuminated in this short film on cohousing. The film is well suited for classroom use in disciplines such as sociology, family studies, urban design, and gerontology. I highly recommend it!"
Deborah Altus, Professor and Chair, Family and Human Services, Washburn University
"A wonderful testimony to the benefits of co-housing, this film captures the essence of intentional community life. Families and individuals own their own homes but share common facilities...Through meals in common kitchens, shared work in tool shops and gardens, socializing in common spaces, neighbors get to know, care about, and support each other."
Christine Cousineau, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University
"It is time to revisit the intentions underlying how we design and build neighborhoods, and their implications for sustainability and social wellbeing...Cohousing, a 40-year old Danish model for collaborative housing, is now being recognized as the one that can offer 'the best of both worlds' to an America that increasingly is diverse, fosters entrepreneurship, participates in a shared economy, and struggles to find the right balance between privacy and community."
Maruja Torres-Antonini, Associate Visiting Professor of Interior Architecture, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
"This inspiring movie makes so compelling a case for co-housing's role in addressing many sustainability problems that one is left wondering when and why co-housing became fringe and why can't we change that."
Laszlo Pinter, Director, School of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University
"Cohousing is a very seductive idea; and this film adds real life dimensions to this seduction...The Best of Both Worlds is both a warm and strong recommendation for cohousing and an excellent medium or tool to elicit discussions about our lifestyles and wellbeing."
Philip Vergragt, Senior Research Scientist, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University, Associate Fellow, Tellus Institute
"Compelling...Illustrates how thoughtful design, consensus decision-making, and shared spaces, amenities, and experiences build communities of mutual support while reducing costs to the residents and to the planet. This riveting film is realistic about the challenges, but makes a compelling case that co-housing can provide the best of all worlds - private and public, current and future."
Jim Diers, Founding Director, Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods, Lecturer, University of Washington, Author, Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way
"Utopian in the best sense of the word, co-housing offers a creative way to help communities consume less, connect more, and reap the benefits of sharing."
Aaron Shkuda, Project Manager, Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, Princeton University
"The Best of Both Worlds is a clear and concise overview that draws on perspectives and experiences of residents...By allowing people to say what they love about co-housing, while also addressing its challenges, we see reasons so many people come to spend their lives in such close and caring communities. It is perfect for community discussions and classes that focus on urban planning, social relations, and models for cooperative living in a world that needs far more of such opportunities."
James Loucky, Professor of Anthropology, Western Washington University
"I recommend to anyone who is looking for a sense of community or living lighter on the planet while enhancing your life to view this film to get inspired and to become a part of creating a community for yourself."
Alan Carpenter, Founder and Director, Canadian Cohousing Network
"Cohousing architects Chuck Durrett and Katie McCamant pioneered ways for neighborhoods to form by residents who balance individual interests with those of the whole; inclusive acceptance of all community members; and living more gently on the earth."
Alan O'Hashi, President, Cohousing Association of the U.S.
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DVD includes scene selection and SDH captions (for the deaf and hard-of-hearing).
The Film's Website
The Film's Facebook Page
Awards and Festivals
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Earth Day Film Festival, Chico
Urban and Regional Planning
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... more Reviews
"I strongly recommend The Best of Both Worlds to any viewer, but especially those interested in more sensible, less stressful ways of living...This documentary will leave the viewer wanting to tour the nearest cohousing neighborhood, and hopefully, build their own."
Dave Wann, Editor, Reinventing Community, Co-Author, Superbia, Producer, Designing a Great Neighborhood
"[An] on-target film...if you're looking into cohousing yourself, The Best of Both Worlds is a great resource to aid in your search."
Joan Oleck, Journalist, Village Hill Cohousing, Northampton, Massachusetts
"I taught a course called Economy, Technology, and Sustainability at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute...This film convinces me that other kinds of structural innovations, such as cohousing, that facilitate changes in lifestyles and community decision-making, are at least as important as technological ones."
Faye Duchin, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
"This film provides a solid introduction for beginning community planning and development students or a first step for groups exploring co-housing as an option in their own community."
Lauren Heberle, Associate Professor of Sociology, Director, Center for Environmental Policy and Management, University of Louisville
"This exploration of cohousing makes you feel hopeful that there is a way to live that is good for you and for the planet...This short but mesmerizing film helps us believe that we can make a difference - that we can change and develop happier, healthier ways of living."
Cecile Andrews, Author, The Circle of Simplicity, Slow is Beautiful, Less is More, Living Room Revolution: A Handbook for Conversation, Community, Sharing, and Happiness
"This powerful, gentle, yet compelling film offers the beauty of cohousing communities and reminds us of how we can all live better on less...Cohousing's village approach - with smaller individual home sizes and larger common spaces, areas and rituals - has never made more sense than today."
Wanda Urbanska, host/producer, Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska, Author, Builders of Hope: A Social Entrepreneur's Solution for Rebuilding America
"This is a vivid, pragmatic look at one of the most promising solutions to many of our nation's most wicked problems - loneliness and economic anxiety. Cohousing is the opposite of precarity; it is abundance, as so beautifully captured in this film."
Courtney E. Martin, Author, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream
"May this film inspire planners, politicians, homeowners, economists and dreamers to make the next house, the next subdivision, the next remodel into structures where 'better living through intelligent sharing' is a way of life."
Vicki Robin, Author, Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
"The Best of Both Worlds brings this inspiring, fast-growing movement to vivid life in the form of a close look at several American co-housing experiments - veteran and new -full of babies and elders and everyone in between."
William Powers, Fellow, World Policy Institute, Author, Dispatches from the Sweet Life: One Family, Five Acres, and a Community's Quest to Reinvent the World
"Well-made, informative...inspiring. Having lived myself in somewhat similar communities, and watched others growing, both in Sweden and the US, I know how much effort is also required and the documentary doesn't skip over the challenges. One comes away with a feeling of genuine possibility, because the story is so genuine."
Alan AtKisson, Co-founder, Sustainable Seattle, former Director, Redefining Progress