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Cohousing Documentary to Premiere at 2020 Wild & Scenic Film Festival

NEVADA CITY, CA–The Wild & Scenic Film Festival has announced that John de Graaf’s latest film “The Best of Both Worlds: Cohousing’s Promise” has been selected for its World Premiere at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, January 16-20, 2020, in Nevada City.

Noted film producer and author John de Graaf has long been on a quest to inform, enlighten and in general make life better through non-materialistic values. This year his work includes a 27-minute documentary film on cohousing, the unique planned coliving communities originally developed in Denmark and brought to the United States in the 1980s by architects Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant.

Realizing there are many projects to choose from, de Graaf was drawn to producing a cohousing film through his previous experience visiting and staying at cohousing while making another film, “Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City.”

Nevada City Cohousing, photo courtesy McCamant & Durrett Architects

“I’ve been interested in cohousing for a long time and have enjoyed staying with friends, including Dave Wann, the co-author of my book Affluenza, in different cohousing communities. I find the relaxed neighborhoods to be so refreshing, with the bulk of the development closed to cars, people enjoying spending time on their porches or meeting others at the common house, and children who had a level of freedom so often lost in modern car-dominated housing projects. I’ve wanted to tell the cohousing story for many years, and I was excited by this opportunity,” de Graaf observes.

De Graaf worked closely with Durrett, who—with his team at The Cohousing Company/McCamant & Durrett Architects—designed more than 50 cohousing communities in the U.S. and around the world, including Muir Commons in Davis, CA, the first cohousing community in North America. Also on the film team is cinematographer Doug Stanley of “Deadliest Catch” fame. Together with gifted editor Greg Davis, they have collected interviews from a wide range of cohousing residents, and while doing so visited Muir Commons, Fair Oaks EcoHousing (now under construction), Nevada City Cohousing, and Wolf Creek Lodge Senior Cohousing in Grass Valley.

Nevada City Cohousing, photo courtesy McCamant & Durrett Architects

Durrett has often noted that the very first cohousing communities in Denmark were slow to get started, but once a film that fully explained cohousing was made and this was shared, the adoption rate began to double annually. For Durrett, completing the film means realizing his vision to share this sustainable lifestyle he has dedicated his career to with a broader audience.

This film aims to reach many people with important options for creative, fulfilling neighborhoods. About the film, Bob Sampayan, mayor of the city of Vallejo, CA, writes, “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.”

Watch the film trailer here.

DeGraaf is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and author. He has served as a producer of documentaries for Public Television for 42 years, including 31 years as independent producer at KCTS, the Seattle PBS affiliate. DeGraaf has acted as a producer for more than 40 documentaries. His next project is: Soul of the City; Vallejo, California’s Quest for Sustainability.

As an author, DeGraaf books include co-authoring What’s the Economy for, Anyway? (2011; 2012). Affluenza (2001, 2005, 2014—now published in nine other languages); and David Brower: Friend of the Earth (1992 children’s book); and editing Take Back Your Time (2003). He has published more than 100 articles in newspapers. magazines and online publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Progressive, New Age Journal, Co-Evolution Quarterly, Utne Reader, YES! Resurgence, Experience Life, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Earth Island Journal, Worldwatch State of the World Book, 2010, Minding Nature, Wild Hope, Vox Populi, Huffington Post, Grist, Alternet, Common Dreams, Sierra, Front Porch Republic, Resilience, Connections and Truthout.

Durrett and McCamant introduced the concept of cohousing to the United States with the seminal book Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. The latest edition is Creating Cohousing, Building Sustainable Communities. Durrett has written several other books on cohousing, including Senior Cohousing: A community Approach to Independent Living—The Handbook.

The work of Durrett and The Cohousing Company/McCamant & Durrett Architects has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, Architecture, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and many other publications.

McCamant & Durrett Architects are currently working on Village Hearth, Durham, NC—the first LGBT senior cohousing community; C Street Commons, Novato, CA; Fair Oaks EcoHousing, Fair Oaks, CA; and Haystack Heights, Spokane, WA, among other projects.