What people are saying about the best of both worlds


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, author Deep Economy


"The Best of Both Worlds" really does its title justice! Good for the planet, our economy, our security, and most importantly, our happiness, co-housing is the best of all worlds! 

-Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace US, author of The Story of Stuff


I loved the new film, The Best of Both Worlds, Cohousing’s Promise. It 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, so exquisitely shown in the movie. And for sound mental health, tribal life needs to be filled with nature and the arts. All three are in the movie, showing an economic and happiness advantage. I have been pushing for communal living (tribal also) 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


THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS is a film that makes you think “why not?” Imagine 34 people sharing one lawn mower, always a friend nearby to borrow a cup of sugar or join in a game of pétanque. 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. Be careful. Dedicating half an hour to enjoying this production could change your future.

-Rick Steves, best-selling travel writer, PBS and NPR host of Travels With Rick Steves


In The Best of Both Worlds you feel, for half an hour, like a member of a wholesome, supportive community. Raising a family, getting old, having friends, sharing the load in the tasks of daily life all happen more easily and cooperatively in cohousing communities.  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 of Your Money or Your Life and Blessing the Hands that Feed Us


As home prices escalate to unheard of levels, 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. Offering both privacy and community, it lessens the environmental footprint of a development and combines many of the amenities that both young and retired buyers are looking for. Smaller, more affordable homes in clusters with walking paths, common areas for meetings, combined dinners, enhanced social connection, community gardens and tool sharing are but a few of the benefits of cohousing.

As I watched THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, I was impressed by all the advantages there are to the cohousing lifestyle. As a result, I am now promoting cohousing here in the city of Vallejo as an alternative to larger developments. I see it as a comfortable and sustainable model that makes great sense for our city’s future. 

-Bob Sampayan, Mayor of Vallejo, California

Academic Reviews


A valuable addition to any sociology, urban planning, and community engaged curriculum, “The Best of Both Worlds: Cohousing’s Promise” describes the benefits and challenges of reimagining the village.  Beautifully filmed and succinctly timed to fit easily into a class session or public presentation with discussion, the film uses residents’ experiences to tell the story of contemporary cohousing developments. Viewers are reminded that intergenerational communities with private homes and shared public spaces can be both environmentally responsible and economically resourceful.  It is not hyperbole to say cohousing offers “the best of both worlds” and this film is an excellent resource for anyone who would like to learn more.

-Melinda Messineo, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Ball State University, Distinguished Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement


Cohousing is a very seductive idea; and this film adds real life dimensions to this seduction. Why would we not all want to live like this? Shared lifestyles are decidedly more climate and environmentally friendly and the quality of life improves as well. As a critical academic I am also aware of the downsides: there will be conflicts, and not everyone may like each other or can bear constant proximity. So I wonder how elements of cohousing can be brought into our often individualistic urbane lifestyles. 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 PhD, Clark University; Tellus Institute; 350Mass.org; Professor Emeritus of Technology Assessment, TU Delft, The Netherlands, co-founder, Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI)


While many people have heard of co-housing, few know much about the nature or history of a movement that is gaining more attention as both housing and homelessness reach crisis proportions. "The Best of Both Worlds: Cohousing's Promise," the latest film by documentary filmmaker John de Graaf, is a clear and concise overview that draws on perspectives and experiences of residents. The film includes pioneers of the first "official" co-housing experience in the United States - surprisingly begun just a few decades ago - along with three other models. 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


At its heart, cohousing is probably an ancient idea, going back to prehistoric times. This inspiring movie makes so compelling a case for its role in addressing many sustainability problems, one is left wondering when and why cohousing became fringe and why can’t we change that.

-Laszlo Pinter, Director of the School of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary


"The Best of Both Worlds" is both informative and compelling as an  introduction to cohousing in the US, making it clear what the benefits are -or all age groups- and what challenges need to be faced in creating it. The film makes me wish, yet again, that there were more cases, particularly in or near urban areas, so that many more of us could benefit.  How wonderful it will be if the film can help achieve that goal!

Karen A. Franck, Professor of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology


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. If you doubt this, or if you just want to learn more, watch this lovely, revealing and inspirational film.  Highly recommended!

James Gustave Speth, Former Dean of the Yale University Environment School and author of America the Possible 


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

Environmental/activist reviews


People everywhere are seeking new options to live their lives in climate-friendly, sustainable ways. “The Best of Both Worlds” reveals the power of co-housing to not only provide low footprint housing but also to meet other needs for belonging, connection, support and affordability, including for our most vulnerable - children and elders. The evidence is here, encouraging architects, planners, financial institutions and communities to create many more co-housing opportunities. The co-housing members profiled in this film invite us to shift our cultural expectations about our living arrangements, build skills in dialogue and consensus decision-making, and return to being connected neighbours.

Vanessa Timmer, Executive Director, One Earth: Vancouver, Canada/Utrecht, Netherlands


Mahatma Gandhi challenged us to "be the change you want to see in the world." The Best of Both Worlds does a superb job of demonstrating how growing numbers of people are doing just that through co-housing. By showing beautiful examples of the more than 150 co-housing developments throughout the United States and relaying the compelling stories of many participants, the documentary 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 of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods, lecturer, University of Washington, and author of Neighbor Power


Humanity is going through a great transition, awakening to our most fundamental need for community and a sense of belonging, away from the limited pursuits of status and accumulation, We are gradually stepping away into more authentic, joyful and at the same time, regenerative, lifestyles, the antidotes to the major ills of western society--overconsumption and isolation.  This film beautifully emphasizes the process of building trust and learning to care for our common space, tools and amenities through cohousing.  It's a compelling case study of what we need on our whole planet--a great documentary!

Anamaria Aristizabal, coach and sustainability leadership trainer, author of Life Re-Vision. Bogota, Colombia


This is a vivid, pragmatic look at one of the most promising solutions to many of our nation's most wicked problems--loneliness, overwhelm, and economic anxiety. Cohousing is the opposite of precarity; it's abundance--as it so beautifully captured in this film.

-Courtney E. Martin, author of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream


I’d like to recommend this short, well-made, informative film to anyone curious about the growth of the co-housing movement in America. The stories THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS tells of people who are willing to do the hard work of realizing a dream are 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, author, songwriter, co-founder of Sustainable Seattle, and former director of Redefining Progress, Stockholm, Sweden

Film and tv reviews


This powerful documentary, a gentle yet compelling film, offers the beauty of cohousing communities and reminds us of how we can all live better on less. It demonstrates how cohousing helps residents in every age group live more meaningful and connected lives. Cohousing's village approach -- with smaller individual home sizes and larger common spaces, areas and rituals -- 

has never made more sense than today. Here's my wish: that The Best of Both Worlds inspires many more Americans to adopt this model.

Wanda Urbanska, host/producer of Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska on PBS; author/coauthor of nine books 


The Best of Both Worlds, a 26-minute video by author and filmmaker John de Graaf, offers an excellent introduction to cohousing.  Cohousing provides benefits that people in apartments and stand-alone houses usually can’t afford or have access to.  Combined resources such as large gardens, tool shops, swimming pools, and laundry rooms; regularly shared meals with friends; open areas where children can play safely; and multigenerational communities of good neighbors give residents of intentional villages a high quality of life. Yet cohousing is not nearly as well-known as it deserves to be. Many have not heard of it at all, like the woman de Graaf interviewed who gave a ride to a hitchhiker who lives in Nevada City Cohousing, took a tour, and decided to move in. By providing an onscreen tour of several cohousing settlements, The Best of Both Worlds may inspire viewers to change their lives for the better.

Stephen Most, filmmaker and author of Stories Make the World


This beautifully shot and edited film tells the fascinating and compelling story of cohousing and explores its decades long history.  It’s noteworthy that cohousing is not more widely known and embraced in America and it's insightful to hear the powerful experiences of people who embrace this form of communal living.  While the film doesn't cover all of the complex challenges of life in such an intentional community, it does offer the viewer a revealing visit to the cohousing world.  Kudos!

Kenan Block, media consultant and former national producer for the PBS NewsHour


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. What if all 170 existing communities that have developed over the years and their 15,000 residents decided to spread the word about how cohousing in many forms can provide housing that is affordable and accessible to all?

-Alan O'Hashi, President of the Cohousing Association of the US, Documentary filmmaker, resident of Silver Sage Village


The Best of Both Worlds is a great introduction to the co-housing movement, from its origins and history, to its social and environmental benefits.  It’s an inspiring film that will raise your awareness of the growing co-housing movement and cause you to re-think some of your own lifestyle choices.

Maurice Bresnahan, Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Public Television

Authors and Other reviews


I didn’t want it to end.  I wanted THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS to keep on going — not just because it’s so fascinating, but because it is so calming. It’s somehow soothing to learn about people living in healthier and more enjoyable ways as cohousing people are. This exploration of cohousing makes you feel hopeful  — hopeful that there is a way to live that is good for you and for the planet .  In particular, cohousing is a powerful response to today's increasing loss of social connection and community — qualities that are essential to happiness and well being. Cohousing people enjoy each other and help each other while at the same time changing the lifestyles that have brought us the climate crisis.  In a time of turmoil and decline of civic life, 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 of Living Room Revolution,   Less Is More, Slow Is Beautiful, and Circle of Simplicity


As a 22-year resident of cohousing and creator of several books and films about sustainable communities, I strongly recommend "The Best of Both Worlds"to any viewer, but especially those interested in more sensible, less stressful ways of living. This film brings viewers right into the homes and public spaces of cohousing, demonstrating how it can meet human needs more effectively than conventional, often-disconnected neighborhoods. Companionship, trust, participation, and creativity are inherent in the cohousing approach, almost guaranteeing happiness. (That's why turnover rates are low).  This documentary will leave the viewer wanting to tour the nearest cohousing neighborhood, and hopefully, build their own.

Dave Wann, Editor of Reinventing Community, coauthor of Superbia, and Producer of Designing a Great Neighborhood


As a designer, I believe in and intend to work towards ways of redesigning our lives: taking up the sense of place and its ecology, to restore dialogue, participation, conviviality, celebration, our civic intelligence, and joy of life. This film shows how cohousing can be a very effective tool to achieve this. Strengthening communities and focusing on the essentials, are the necessary basis for shifting our systems and societal patterns towards more sustainable and, in the best cases, regenerative, ones.

Anja Grubic, Sustainable Design Engineer, 

Copenhagen, Denmark


As we enter the 20s, surveys show that “community” is at the forefront of Americans’ yearnings, yet it feels more elusive than ever. The good news is that it is actually all around us in the form of the one-hundred-fifty co-housing communities nationwide. Director John de Graaf's (of "Affluenza" fame) 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. Anything but dry-and-doctrinaire, here for the first time on the screen we meet and feel emotionally connected to real folks telling their co-housing stories in a pleasant, highly engaging narrative that takes us from dream to design to sustainable happiness. Who says sustainability can’t be a whole lot of fun? If you are able to watch just one television program this year, it should be The Best of Both Worlds.

William Powers, Fellow, World Policy Institute, author of Twelve by Twelve and New Slow City


As someone passionate about Cohousing since I discovered it in  1992 and as a resident of 23 years 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. I believe in Charles Durrett’s phase that we are “Creating a better world one neighborhood at a time.” I truly believe that Cohousing is making a difference.

  Alan Carpenter, Founder and Director of the Canadian Cohousing Network


So many people, upon learning about cohousing for the first time, tend to say, "Well, that's a good idea!" The reason it's a "good idea" has to do what cohousing offers: 1) The ability to age in place; 2) The ability to have neighbors you know and can depend on for help when you need it (or they need it); 3) The ability to gain the community so many of us Americans feel a lack of, given our isolated living arrangements and crazy-busy lives. Then again, when people learn about cohousing, they're apt to have questions, and John de Graaf's on-target film answers most of those questions and offers interviews with current cohousing residents, plus video footage of what four California developments look like. So, 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


This delicious short film describes building a neighborhood community from scratch, from idea through to realization. We can imagine and build the kind of place where we want to live instead of being captive of the profit driven model we've been sold.

Tom Bowerman, Oregon planner, designer and researcher