TEDxJacksonville: The Power of Uniqueness

February 8, 2015 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Ed McMahon, who holds the Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC, believes that Place is more than just a location on a map. Place is the unique collection of qualities and characteristics–visual, cultural, social, environmental–that provide meaning to a location. Sense of place is what makes one city or town different from another, but it is also what makes our physical surroundings worth caring about.

In this talk, McMahon sets forth a compelling argument for the economic, psychological and social value of uniqueness.  He explains that, in a global marketplace, well-educated workers, world-class infrastructure and the ability to turn ideas into commercial realities are all critically important to economic success–but the other critical, but often forgotten, element is “community distinctiveness.” “Communities that can’t differentiate themselves,” McMahon observes, “have no competitute advantage.”

Ed McMahon is nationally known as an inspiring and thought-provoking speaker and leading authority on economic development and land use polices and trends. As the Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development McMahon leads ULI’s worldwide efforts to conduct research and educational activities related to environmentally sensitive development policies and practices.

Before joining the Urban Land Institute in 2004, McMahon spent 14 years as the Vice President and Director of Land Use Planning for The Conservation Fund in Arlington, Virginia where he helped to protect more than five million acres of land of historic or natural significance. He is also the co-founder and former President of Scenic America, a national non-profit organization devoted to protecting America’s scenic landscapes. Before that, he taught law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center for nine years, and served in the U.S. Army, both at home and abroad. McMahon is the author or co-author of 15 books and over 300 articles. McMahon has served on numerous advisory boards and commissions including: the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Maryland, The Governor’s Institute for Community Design, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Orton Family Foundation. McMahon has a B.S. from Spring Hill College, an M.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Alabama, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School. He and his wife live in Takoma Park, Maryland.

This talk comes from TEDxJacksonville's 2014 conference. Connect with TEDxJacksonville here.