Liz Larson: A girl with "grand aspirations

By Kristin Riegel

Liz Larson ’10, an international studies major and environmental studies minor, was afraid to go to a “crazy” MacCares meeting her first year. As a sophomore, she mustered her courage and gave the meetings a chance. Since then, she’s chaired “Think Outside the Bottle” and is in the process of incorporating “Grand Aspirations,” a think and do tank for the youth environmental movement. The Mac Weekly sat down with Liz Larson to talk about what’s she’s done so far and what’s she’s going to do next.The Mac Weeky: Where are you from originally?
Liz Larson: I was born in the Twin Cities but I grew up outside of Boston. So I would say I’m from New England.

TMW: What brought you all the way from the East Coast to Minnesota?
LL: My dad went here and when I was younger I was really determined not to go here but then I visited one of my friends in my senior year of high school and I felt so at home . . . I knew this is where I was going to spend the next four years of my life.

TMW: You mentioned that you felt so at home when you visited Mac, do you now consider Mac your home?
LL: I consider Macalester to be my home. I’ve really found my place with my friends from my first year floor, and Mock Trial and this year with my friends from MacCares (Macalester’s Conservation and Renewable Energy Society).

TMW: When did you get involved with MacCares? What has your experience been like?
LL: I was afraid to join MacCares last year because they seemed really crazy; but at the beginning of this year I had the idea that I wanted to educate the student body about bottled water and the social and environmental impact of it so I went to a meeting. Within 48 hours I was put in contact with “Think Outside the Bottle.”

TMW: Where did the interest in bottled water come from?
LL: I worked at an environmental association the summer before I came to Mac. That is really where my interest in water testing and quality came from.

TMW: What is “Think Outside the Bottle?
LL: It’s a national campaign run by Corporate Accountability International. They were basically doing what I wanted to do. Think Outside the Bottle educates people, has them sign pledges to stop buying water, asks restaurants stop selling it and has a few other demands that I can’t think of at the moment.

TMW: Have you helped with any other projects?
LL: I’m really interested in law and got pegged as the MacCares lawyer . . . I started working with Cooperative Energy Futures, a for-profit cooperative that does energy efficient measures on homes. I worked with them on looking into proposing a bill about changing the structure of energy bills to homeowners. Through Cooperative Energy Futures I ended up helping set up Grand Aspirations.

TMW: What is Grand Aspirations?
LL: Grand Aspirations is going to serve as a youth think and do tank that will help the youth environmental movement. It is a place where initiatives and community-based projects can be incubated and eventually go off on their own.

TMW: Who have you worked with on your project?
LL: Grand Aspirations was conceived before I came around. I was asked to help with it. My check was the one that incorporated it and I am the first board member of it but I hope that the board will develop.

TMW: What will the board look like?
LL: We are in the process of asking people to be on the board right now. Right now I am the student board member just because that was the easiest spot to fill. We are planning on asking community and national leaders in the environmental movement.

TMW: What is the connection between MacCares and Grand Aspirations?
LL: Right now it’s associated with MacCares in that a lot of the people working on it are in MacCares . . . we haven’t made clear what the association will be in the future.

TMW: What has your experience working on Grand Aspirations been like?
LL: It’s been really interesting. It engages what I joke are the two halves of my life-the law and the environment. But mostly I just think it’s sweet and I like chilling with the people who are working on it.

TMW: Outside of MacCares, what do you do for fun?
LL: This work is fun! But, I also like hanging out with my friends, reading comic books and going on bike rides. I also do tech theater. I find it amusing that I am a lights technician and am involved in the environmental movement. The lights take so much energy and I am definitely aware of that every time I turned the board on.

TMW: What advice would you give to other people who are looking to find their “home” on campus?
LL: Just be open to new experiences. I know that sounds super cliché but it was just saying yes when people asked me to help that allowed me to do what I am doing; that and keeping an open mind. But also don’t give up your vision of how you want to make the world better. You have to be yourself to find where your home is and to find what clicks with you.