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October 2012 
In This Issue
Housing after the Great Recession
Raising real estate equity online
Too Smart for our Own Good
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Arcadia Video Corner

KCPT: Imagine KC - Transit Oriented Development
KCPT: Imagine KC - Transit Oriented Development
Arcadia partner, Christopher B. Leinberger, speaks in Kansas City about the benefits of a proposed street car line.
Arcadia partner, Robert S. Davis, discusses 25 years of success at Perspicasity, Seaside's open area market.

Seaside documentary trailer
Seaside trailer
A short telling of the story of Seaside.
Arcadia Reading Corner
 by Arcadia alumnus, 
Steven Ujifusa.

The story of America's greatest naval architect, William Francis Gibbs, and his quest to build the world's finest ocean liner, the S.S. United States.

 by Arcadia partner, Christopher B.

Americans are voting with their feet to abandon strip malls and suburban sprawl, embracing instead a new type of community where they can live, work, shop, and play within easy walking distance.


by Seaside Institute. 

A book about the iconic community of the New Urbanism-- Seaside-- developed by Arcadia partner, Robert Davis.

Last Harvest
by Witold Rybczynski.

A book about American development told through the lens of Arcadia's New Daleville community in Chester County.


As the Delaware Valley hunkered down in the face of Hurricane Sandy, downtown Narberth, Pennsylvania was open for business.  I had my car serviced at Narberth's Richard's II auto repair. The Narberth Cheese Shop was bustling with customers.  Mapes 5&10, American Family Market, and our three beloved watering holes, McSheas, Greeks, and Great American Pub, were all open.  Even Danny's Guitar Shop was open. Well, if you had to shop Monday, Narberth was a better bet than the King of Prussia Mall which was closed.  Because the customers, the employees and the owners generally walk, life in Narberth doesn't end when it rains, snows or blows.


Our partner, Chris Leinberger, and friends, John McIlwain and Rob Bowman, will be speaking on November 8th in Philadelphia at an event entitled "American Dream or American Nightmare: Housing After the Great Recession."  Arcadia alum Greg Berman is leading a new web start-up for raising real estate private equity.  My recent op-ed on character among elites was published in the Philadelphia Business Journal.  Read more below.

Be safe,

 JMD signature
Jason Duckworth
American Dream or American Nightmare: Housing after the Great Recession.
Host of Nov 8, 2012 housing event.
Generations of Americans in the 20th century moved out of cities, seeking bigger homes and more land and privacy. Since the Second World War, every downturn in housing was followed by a swift uptick with new construction activity catalyzing a broader resumption of growth. As Americans achieved the American Dream they satisfied social norms of "success" and fueled our primary source of savings.

Today, are we just experiencing a long pause from this virtuous cycle or the beginning of a "new normal?"  Has housing's role in upward mobility and national prosperity changed?  Will as many Americans be homeowners in the future?  Do we still want our own acre or are neighborhoods and more urban living making a comeback?

On November 8, 2012 in Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance will bring together a leading panel of housing and land use experts to discuss this.
  • Chris Leinberger, Arcadia partner, senior fellow of the Brookings Institution and professor at George Washington University business school.
  • John McIlwain, senior resident fellow and J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing at the Urban Land Institute.
  • Rob Bowman, CEO of Charter Homes, a leading developer of smart growth communities in Pennsylvania.
To register for the event, please click here.
Globerex: an online marketplace for raising and placing real estate equity.

Arcadia alumnus, Greg Berman, is one of the entrepreneurs behind Globerex, an online exchange for raising real estate private equity.  Globerex is a place to find investors or deals across the full gamut of real estate.

The Globerex technology streamlines the entire real estate equity raising process with tools that feel like a combination of and Dropbox.  The "connections" area of Globerex is an extraordinary network of investors and sponsors from around the world.  

Try it out; it's free. We've been playing with the site at Arcadia and hope to use it for communicating with existing investors on a new deal.
Too Smart for our Own Good: Op-Ed by Jason Duckworth featured in Philadelphia Business Journal.

One hundred and twenty Harvard students are under investigation for cheating. One of our vice presidential candidates speaks with modest reverence for facts. A New Jersey congressman takes an expensive family vacation using campaign dollars and says it's OK because it was approved by his wife, a professor of legal ethics.

There is a growing sense that America's elites have lost their moral compass. From finance to politics to our greatest universities, we are confronted repeatedly with examples of those at the top of the ladder playing unfairly to climb higher. And what makes this especially shocking is that today's elites are the product of what is arguably the most meritocratic system for advancement in American history. As brains replaced birthright in the late 20th century, we were to have inaugurated a more worthy elite.

So what went wrong? Inherent in today's meritocracy is the notion that an individual's intellectual performance matters most. Paul Tough, in his new book, How Children Succeed, describes this notion as the "cognitive hypothesis" - the idea that intelligence is the most important factor in a person's success in life. Tough describes compellingly how American education has lost its way by undervaluing the broad range of character traits that contribute to success in life and society, from perseverance and conscientiousness to kindness and generosity. Our obsession with the cultivation and measurement of academic skills and intelligence has encouraged exactly what we've tested for: smart kids who test well but fail at the broader range of character strengths not on the test.

As we've passively watched droves of kids drop scouting and enroll in test prep classes, we may have signaled to our children that personal achievement comes before community norms. If what matters is a high grade on your Harvard take-home exam and not how honorably you earned it, then you have created a system that effectively discourages moral character.

Just as the "cognitive hypothesis" may have undermined character in young people, it could be argued that objective systems for advancement in business have done the same for adults. In the recent years, we've seen scores of bankers knowingly lend money to unqualified homebuyers and yet earn big bonuses. We've watched financiers take gambles that put taxpayers at immense risk and yet retire rich. We have witnessed high-profile journalists be revealed as fabricators or plagiarists. Recent scholarship from UC Berkeley provides disturbing evidence that "the pursuit of self-interest is a more fundamental motive among society's elite, and the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing."

It appears that noble character may be increasingly rare among our nobility.

Our meritocracy needs to broaden its definition of merit and, in doing so, tilt the incentives towards a more holistic concept of character. In the early 20th century, songwriter Katherine Lee Bates in "America the Beautiful" urged the nation to "confirm thy soul in self-control."

It could be an anthem for the 21st century too.