Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  54 minutes
Date:  2005
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
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Designing A Great Neighborhood

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A model co-housing project, where future residents participate in the design of their own neighborhood.

Designing A Great Neighborhood

To people driving past the old Holiday Drive-In Theater site in Boulder, Colorado, it might seem like a new neighborhood has sprung out of the ground overnight. But those who worked on the project's development know better. Collectively, hundreds of thousands of decisions and choices were made to create the 330-home neighborhood, where affordability and sustainability are primary goals. It wasn't exactly a simple mission.

In DESIGNING A GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD, director David Wann follows the progress of the Wild Sage Cohousing Community project, where future residents participate in the design of their own neighborhood. The stated architectural goal at the Wild Sage site in Boulder is a 'zero emissions' neighborhood in which solar energy, energy efficiency, and changes in behavior eliminate the need for fossil fuels.

The master site developer, The Boulder Housing Partners (BHP), has a vision for creating affordable neighborhoods that are also lively, efficient and pedestrian friendly. More than 400 people with low and middle incomes will live at Holiday, many as first-time homeowners.

'Finally, a film that goes beyond green building to address the comprehensive benefits of green neighborhood design! By prioritizing quality over size, we can achieve better neighborhoods for people in all stages of life and income brackets. The market for great neighborhoods will flourish once people know what's possible, and can 'vote with their dollars.' Developers, governing officials and the public need to see this film!'
Alexis Karolides, AIA, Principal, Green Development Services, Rocky Mountain Institute

''People don't really understand there are choices about how you build and where you live,' says Wann. 'This story enables them to see an example of something different to make them happier, save them money and save the environment. It's a lay person's look at what green building means.'...Higher density, a community garden, walkable and interconnected streets, nearby shops and even shared car rentals encourage a sociable existence.' The Denver Post

'[Designing a Great Neighborhood] shows an excellent community development initiative that is grounded in many of the core principles of sustainability...The documentary clearly shows the TIME this process takes to engage the community, work with a designer and developer, and then build the project... Developers and builders could take some serious lessons on community engagement and local partnership building from this video... [Designing a Great Neighborhood]--as far as being a tool for demonstrating a community engagement process and the environmental AND economic benefits that can be derived from sustainable development--is excellent, informative and very well done.' Martin L. Harris, Director, National Association of Counties, Center for Sustainable Communities

'Designing a Great Neighborhood gives a marvelous insight into the integrative design process. It is a vivid demonstration of the way development should take place, with emphasis on the experience of the homeowner, the development of a true community, and attention to environmental impacts ranging from water pollution to traffic congestion. It follows city officials, developers, architects, future residents, and other stakeholders through the four-year process from conception to habitation; the path is not always easy, nor is the end product without fault, but the result is still outstanding. If all developments focused on creating houses that would give residents such a high quality of living, we all would benefit. This film will inspire all towards this very end.' Will Clift, Energy and Resources Services, Rocky Mountain Institute

'The viewer experiences firsthand, the interaction of future residents as they plan and develop their new community. Words and phrases specific to the development are defined in terms we can all understand...The video quality is superb, steady and well-focused. The choice of upbeat music is particularly appropriate in that it captures the mood and excitement of the residents as they design and develop this great space... [Designing a Great Neighborhood] is recommended for high school media centers specifically for architecture and sociology classes. College and university libraries with collections in sociology and architecture would also benefit by including this video in their holdings. Community groups and non-profit development groups would possibly find this useful as an addition to their public libraries.' Educational Media Reviews Online

'RECOMMENDED for academic and large public libraries.' Library Journal


Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Black Bear Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival
RioFest Environmental Film Festival
Brownfields Conference Film Festival


Main credits

Wann, David (Producer)
Callaway, Evelyn (Narrator)

Other credits

Cinematography, Stuart Keene; editor, Bob Callaway.

Distributor credits

Greening America Productions

Greening America Productions
David Wann

Docuseek2 subjects

Local Economies
Suburban Studies
Urban Studies

Distributor subjects

Affordable Housing
American Studies
Energy Efficiency
Green Building
Renewable Energy
Science, Technology, Society
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning
Western US


co-housing, Holiday Drive-In, Boulder, Colorado, Wild Sage Cohousing Community, zero emissions, solar energy, energy efficiency, fossil fuels, Boulder Housing Partners, David Johnston, Paul Ray, Cindy Brown, John Wolff, Jim Leach, Jim Logan,"Designing A Great Neighborhood",Bullfrog Films

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