We had the good fortune of connecting with El Larson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi El, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’ve found (perceived) risks usually mean I’m listening to myself and the Universe. For me, it’s usually part of a meditation/ listening and manifestation process (sometimes impulsive, sometimes I have to be patient), where I’m led in a direction and the next step is into the unknown. Like I can either step off this ledge and see what happens, or turn 90° and do something more ‘logical’, with a relatively predictable outcome. But I’m not at the ledge to turn 90°, I’m at the ledge to step forward, so in that way it’s a no-brainer. That doesn’t mean it’s not intimidating, of course, but the potential is exciting. Taking risks has racked up a pretty diverse string of experiences and relationships that, in the last several years, I’ve better understood how they all meld together. It’s a bit alchemical, I guess, and helps me better see/ hear/ understand people, imbalances, spaces, — myself, etc. It’s a constant process.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Work is in very much evolving as my wellness practice expands to spaces and the built environment. Day job at RoTo Architects, seeing a few sound clients, studying Feng Shui — it’s busy, but interconnects. It’s exciting to feel many aspects of my Self click together – developing my natural design eye and deep connection with nature (biophilic design), considering how buildings and spaces should feel and sound, for what purpose, for what person/ group. Blending studies/ practices from the last 20 years (yoga, Ayurveda, sound, Shamanism, etc) with what I’m learning now, plus accreditations in two wellness building standards — WELL & Fitwel, feels very expansive, yet focused. It’s not easy — it’s work, after all — but I find ease in it. ‘Sthira sukha’ – steadiness and ease, right? Understanding my elemental (im)balances and how to reign those in or apply them has been immensely helpful, and it’s the foundation of my practice with clients and how I view/ experience spaces. Also going back to risk taking – listening, waiting, and having the courage to follow some ‘out of the box’ idea. Thinking I should adhere to convention is sometimes my biggest challenge. But that usually lasts about five minutes.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been living near Altadena the last 8+ years, so my LA recs might be a bit dated…
– A hike in the foothills with a pub lunch afterwards in Sierra Madre or Monrovia usually happens once or twice. Dinner at Yui Sushi, and grab ice cream and pie from Mother Moos Creamery to take home (both in Sierra Madre)
– A day at Huntington Gardens, dinner for ‘posh mall food’ at the Santa Anita Westfield — likely Din Tai Fung, and of course Lady M Cake to go – Beach Day! Venice/ Santa Monica Pier, drive up to Malibu
– Explore DTLA, a museum, Little Tokyo, Redbird for dinner, Ace or Standard rooftop for some music and a drink
– Afternoon in Silverlake/ Echo park checking out shops (Spellbound Sky is a must), lunch at Pine & Crane or Ostrich Farm, hang out at a cafe and people watch. Or pick up some tacos and bring to Modular on the Spot in North Atwater Park (monthly on a Sunday)
– If they’d never been to LA, definitely a tourist drive through Hollywood, WeHo, the hills, etc. I’ve not been on one of those celebrity tour busses/ vans, but totally would.
Other restaurants I love : Cacao Mexicatessan (Eagle Rock), Guelaguetza (KTown), altaeats (Altadena). But I really enjoy eating simple, healthy food at home. We’d definitely grill a night or two, smoke some fish, etc. It’s really peaceful up here, so people usually appreciate a bit of laid back time hanging out in the yard surrounded by nature (and I’m very much in that mode). Of course if there’s some good experimental music or a show at The Greek they’d want to see, I can definitely be persuaded.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First my parents, who are immensely loving and supportive. My dad white-knuckled it through my early 20’s when I ditched University to galavant around the world. After returning successful and (mostly) unscathed, he acknowledged I have my own logic, which works for me (but coming from a guy who built an actual airplane in our garage, who is the conventional one?). My mom is like the Bob Ross of poetry – she’s a meditator and sends these relaxing Snapchats with impromptu prose of things she encounters in nature while hiking, snow shoeing, kayaking etc in rural MN. And my husband, Gabe, who embraces and supports my eccentricities while offering a really valuable critical mind and perspective. As for mentors, so many truly gifted people have graced me with their knowledge. Currently, I’m working with/ learning from architect/educator Michael Rotondi at RoTo Architects*. He’s had a very diverse career — a co-founder of SCI-Arc, and spent significant time working with Indigenous Peoples and Buddhist communities. He embodies (and encourages) this blend of curiosity/ ‘child’s eyes’, intuition, and strategy/ intellectualism. Being surrounded by his work and thought is simultaneously deep and inspiring. He so generously passes along his thinking and experience, it’s a really special firm. *After diving into my listening/ manifesting mode a few years ago to see how I could bring wellness into the built environment, he appeared.
Other: https://heare.bandcamp.com/ www.rotoark.com