Laura Larson


Title (Dublin Core)

Laura Larson

Description (Dublin Core)

Self description: “My name is Laura, and I am in two bands right now. I am in a band called Scrunchies and a band called Kitten Forever. I play guitar, base, drums, and I sing in those two bands. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For work, I work at a community cooperative grocery store, in an administrative position, but one that is community outreach based and have a lot to do with meeting and coordinating with our community partners, a lot of the work that I do is about mutual aid, and helping out the community with the resources that we have available to us. Besides that I am a visual artist, I like to paint, I like to draw, I like to read books, and I live in a little duplex with my partner and our cat Sissy.”

Some of the things we spoke about included:
- In addition to performing in the bands Scrunchies and Kitten Forever, working for a community grocer and its ties to health activism.
- Income and racial disparities in Minnesota.
- The fear that comes with being uninsured in the United States.
- The national confusion around the values of masking and other safety precautions and the burden placed on individuals to make these decisions in the absence of clear and consistent messaging.
- The significance of shutting down music events while keeping sporting events going.
- Media representation of event cancelations, freezers of bodies, and overwhelmed hospitals.
- Living less than a mile from where George Floyd was murdered and movements to defund the police.
- How the ongoing destruction of the earth conditioned the pandemic and the enduring importance of climate change.
- Grocery store workers being essential workers who still did not receive vaccination prioritization.
- Collective trauma and that fear begets fear.
- Making and consuming art as a form of self-care.
- How new the internet still is as a technology.

Cultural references: Save Our Stages, The Atlantic article “Cancel Everything”.

See also:

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

Creator (Dublin Core)

Contributor (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

Oral History

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)

Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Contributor's Tags (a true folksonomy) (Friend of a Friend)

Collection (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Date Created (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Kit Heintzman

Interviewer Email (Friend of a Friend)

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Laura Larson

Location (Omeka Classic)

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Interviewee Gender (Friend of a Friend)


Interviewee Age (Friend of a Friend)

35 to 44

Interviewee Race/Ethnicity (Friend of a Friend)


Format (Dublin Core)


Duration (Omeka Classic)


abstract (Bibliographic Ontology)

Some of the things we spoke about included:
- In addition to performing in the bands Scrunchies and Kitten Forever, working for a community grocer and its ties to health activism.
- Income and racial disparities in Minnesota.
- The fear that comes with being uninsured in the United States.
- The national confusion around the values of masking and other safety precautions and the burden placed on individuals to make these decisions in the absence of clear and consistent messaging.
- The significance of shutting down music events while keeping sporting events going.
- Media representation of event cancelations, freezers of bodies, and overwhelmed hospitals.
- Living less than a mile from where George Floyd was murdered and movements to defund the police.
- How the ongoing destruction of the earth conditioned the pandemic and the enduring importance of climate change.
- Grocery store workers being essential workers who still did not receive vaccination prioritization.
- Collective trauma and that fear begets fear.
- Making and consuming art as a form of self-care.
- How new the internet still is as a technology.

Cultural references: Save Our Stages, The Atlantic article “Cancel Everything”.

Transcription (Omeka Classic)

Kit Heintzman 0:00

Laura Larson 0:02

Kit Heintzman 0:04
would you please start by telling me your full name, the name, the date, the time and your location?

Laura Larson 0:10
My name is Laura Larsen. It is February 22 2021. It's 4:35pm. And I am in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kit Heintzman 0:22
And do you consent to having this interview recorded, digitally uploaded and publicly released under creative commons license Attribution Noncommercial sharealike?

Laura Larson 0:30

Kit Heintzman 0:32
Would you please start by introducing yourself to anyone who might be listening to this, what might you want them to understand about you and the place that you're speaking from?

Laura Larson 0:42
Sure, um, let's see. Well, like I said, my name is Laura and I am in two bands. Right now I am in a band called Scrunchies. And I am in a band called Kitten Forever, I play guitar, bass drums and I sing in those two bands. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And for work, I work at a community cooperative grocery store, and I kind of work in an administrative position, but one that is community outreach based and have a lot to do with, you know, meeting and coordinating with our community partners. And a lot of the work that I do is kind of based around mutual aid and sort of helping out the community with the resources that we have available to us. Um, besides that, I am a visual artist, I like to paint I like to draw, I like to read books, and I live in a little duplex in South Minneapolis with my partner and our cat Susie.

Kit Heintzman 1:57
And would you start by telling me a little bit about your experiences with health and healthcare infrastructures, before the outbreak.

Unknown Speaker 2:07
So let's see it my experience with health has been, you know, I think I have a pretty fortunate circumstance in that there were parts of my life that led me to view health in a way that I don't think a lot of people have the opportunity to view it, and then they don't have the opportunity to make changes within their own lives to better their own health. But I was able to sort of take a look at, you know, like I'm having these issues with, you know, my body or my health or my mental health, and I was able to identify where those were coming from and address them. And I don't, I think that I'm very lucky and that I can live in, in a world where I can access things like that I have had health insurance for the majority of my adult life. I have, you know, access to the internet and education that helps me learn more about nutrition and physical health and you know, my you know, I am a I am a cisgendered woman and my reproductive system and everything that goes into that and I've had access to all of those things. and due to that, I've been able to be really cognizant of how I address like my own personal health issues and make lifestyle changes based on those things. And that led me into the career that I have right now which is working at a cooperative grocery store where you know, there is more of a health and wellness minded mentality around everyday living and the things you consume and how they change your mindset and how they affect you in ways that I don't think a lot of people have the opportunity to really learn about growing up let alone be able to actively take action on and change within their own lives. And I grew up in the suburbs and I certainly didn't know any of that stuff. And it took some pretty you know, confusing and and unfortunate health issues in my own life to sort of realize like, Oh, I like something has to change here. And if no one else is going to give me the resources to figure it out. I'll just I'll have to do it myself. And it was a lot of trial and error. And I'm you know, by no means saying that I have I'm in perfect health now or anything but I understand the the resources that I have available to me that I can access to sort of at least have some more of the puzzle pieces put together that a lot of folks don't really have the opportunity to have especially in a city like Minneapolis where there's huge income disparities, huge racial disparity is and what I have access to is not what is the common experience here and I feel very lucky that I was able to find an understanding of health at a relatively young age probably in my late 20s you know, but it's Yeah, that's that's kind of where I'm at with that right now.

Kit Heintzman 5:23
Would you talk a little bit about how you see the relationship between individual choice and structural policy when it comes to health again more broadly?

Laura Larson 5:35
Um, I think the the structural system we have in place in this country right now to take care of people's health is abysmal. I think it is an absolute tragedy that the choices we have to make given the the systems that are set up are a matter of life and money and I think that when people start having to make these choices they don't there's no backup there's no there's nothing to fall back on and it's it's disturbing and it's I can't even it's one of those things where you look around and you really see like there's people my friends don't have health care and everyday they live in fear of something happening to them my partner didn't have health insurance for four years and everyday was really frightening and it's you know, it's inaccessible it's an affordable it's it's impossible to access and then when you do have access to it there's still a number of things that can go wrong or you know, you're paying the insurance company to pay to go to the doctor and you know if something comes up that's an additional huge chunk of money and so you end up with with the system of people who have to make all of these choices about their health when they also have to juggle childcare and whether they can keep a roof over their heads and whether they can you know, have dinner that fills you know fills their stomach for the night and it's it's barbaric and it's archaic and I cannot I it's hard to wrap my head around every single day to think about like this the systems that we have in place that that are really really hurtful to so many people and the people that are in charge of these systems are not doing anything to change that or fix it

Kit Heintzman 7:44
Could you tell me a little bit about what the restrictions have been like where you are and how that's impacted you personally, professionally.

Laura Larson 7:53
So in Minneapolis we kind of we ended up being in the same sort of you know, every city across the United States kind of felt like they were shutting down one right after the other within a couple of days you know, each other last March and it initially just felt you know, it was everything, everything was was shut down. Everyone was holed up inside and there were so many questions about what what can we do? What Can't we do? Do we have to bleach the food we're bringing home like all of this stuff, and the narrative around wearing masks was really confusing.

Kit Heintzman 8:40
Sorry, can I pause you for a second? Ah, yeah, my internet lost you for half a second.

Laura Larson 8:48
Okay, cool. Um, let's see where should I pick up from so I think in Minnesota as with the rest, you know, the rest of the country there was really confusing guidance on whether or not to wear masks and I think there was a lot of a narrative of you know, don't wear masks it doesn't help you're taking away resources for people that need it. And, you know, there's been a lot of confusion and misinformation that's been bouncing around at all levels of of, of this scenario in that, you know, you you kind of hear messaging in one way that says, like, you know, don't use these resources and then it shifts and then you have this information that says Like, this is mandatory now and then you have this other you know, thing where you have people that kind of just believe all this different spectrum and so, you know, we have restrictions in place still, but they kind of fluctuate all the time and it's been really hard to kind of, I guess do anything but it's been difficult seeing people sort of decide on their own, it feels like we all have to take all the information in and decide for ourselves what the best option for our community is going to be. And that varies from person to person. For myself, I've been staying at home a lot, I am really, really lucky to be able to work from home for a lot of this. Creatively, it's been really frustrating because a big part of my life before the shutdowns started happening, was playing shows and going on tour with my bands and I can't do that. Obviously, if if there's no shows, and I think something that myself and a lot of the artistic community and a lot of musicians have had a really hard time dealing with is how things like the, like professional sports, for example, professional sports are still able to go on and not even perfect, like amateur sports like kids, kids Little League and stuff, like they still have a lot of these things going on. And there's been no respite for musicians at all. There's nothing like a word we're relegated to live shows that we have to set up via zoom ourselves, and there's no infrastructure in place to be able to help that system of creativity keep going, there's been some initiatives like save our stages, which, you know, demands that like, a lot of that the resources that are going to a lot of these other places get sent into venues, basically, because a lot of these venues that have been around forever, that sustained a lot of these, you know, creative people and performers coming through, don't have any sort of backing to be able to survive a moment like this. And having having that knowledge and not being able to see the end of this pandemic and not being able to see if these places that we've played 1000 times are going to still exist in six months is really scary. And it's scary as someone who's been a touring musician for over 15 years. What it you know, what does it mean for the future of my bands, and it's, you know, I think that having those restrictions in place is extremely important. I'm not looking for everything to reopen by any means, but I think that the weight of where we're putting our energy into who has the access and the resources to be able to function during a pandemic? Just really highlights where our priorities in this country lie.

Kit Heintzman 13:00
Would you tell me a little bit about what you remember hearing about when you first heard about COVID-19 so sort of first reactions a year ago

Laura Larson 13:08
I remember one of the first things I read when I first heard about COVID-19 that made me feel like it was very serious was an article in The Atlantic magazine that said cancel everything that was the headline or that was the title of the article was cancel everything and I remember just even seeing that headline be like oh this is really serious like this is this is that that weird feeling where you just you know you never thought you would expect to see the day where something like this would happen and then all of a sudden it was happening there had certainly been you know, the weeks leading up to that there had been whispers that's you know, turned into like wait a second this is like actually getting more and more intense and like I remember having conversations with my friends you know and my co workers being like, are we how scared should we be right now like kind of not really understanding like the level of fear that we should be having and then starting to see the reports coming out of Italy and those stories of you know, doctors working around the clock and like their hallways just lined with patients and seeing some of those images and seeing you know, the the refrigerated trucks outside of hospitals taking away bodies and all of that stuff was just like it was it was jarring and it was really jarring to think that like that's coming here and you know hearing people say like, Oh yeah, we're gonna know people that die from this we're gonna eat like everybody is going to know somebody that ends up dying from this. And I know that today. You know, as of this recording today or yesterday, we passed half a million deaths from this and In America, not even you know, and it's, it's weird. It's a it's a really, I think, I think kind of looking back a year ago and thinking, what, what it would be like and the number of questions that we had then. And the number of answers that we have now are still, you know, it's I still have a lot of the same questions that I had in March of 2020. And it's, you know, it's, it's, it's a strange thing, it's a strange time, and it was it was strange hearing about it. And, you know, I think we're, people are adaptive, and I've adapted and other people have adapted. But I think that this is really it's shining a light on a lot of things that maybe we didn't want to look at before. And that was not something I expected when I first started hearing about it.

Kit Heintzman 15:54
This is another really broad question, but what have some, what have been some of the most important issues on your mind over the course of the last year.

Laura Larson 16:05
Some of the most important issues on my mind this year are just how how glaring the income, and racial disparities are in this country. And I think that it isn't something that I was unaware of before, by any means. My job has a lot to do with racial justice, and abolition and social justice issues. But I think that the the, the narrative in this country has really, I don't know has really aligned with like, what what we're seeing in terms of, you know, who are the people dying the most from this, who are the people that have access to health care because of this, who are the people who, you know, lose the biggest number of family members because of this, it's, it's no, it's no surprise and it's no coincidence that it's people of color that are the most affected by these things. And that, to me, is the probably the biggest tragedy of this whole thing. And I think, you know, in some aspects is a reason that things haven't been you know, sped up to get fixed any quicker or to get resolved any quicker is because we have a tendency to just, you know, brush people of color under the rug in this country and I you know, living in Minneapolis, I live less than a mile from where George Floyd was murdered last summer and seeing the, the reaction worldwide about that and just having the lid blown off and say, like, you can't hide from this anymore, you can't ignore these these systemic issues that are, you know, insidiously hiding within the cracks of this country. Um, I think is a, you know, in a weird way, kind of a blessing, because I think that it really forced a lot of people who didn't want to think about this stuff, to think about it. And I think if, you know, if there was one thing that really has been the most, yeah, at the top of my mind, throughout this entire past year, it would be the systems that are in place that are actively keeping people of color down, low income people down, and in an impossible situation all the time.

Kit Heintzman 18:49
This question, harks back to something you already touched on, so if you if you're like, No, I did that. That's cool. But I'm wondering what health means to you.

Laura Larson 19:02
health, health, to me, it means bodily autonomy and self empowerment to make choices to better yourself and your community. And I think there's community health in the, you know, in the ways that we take care of each other and in the ways that we help each other access things, and there's health that we, you know, that we bring to the table every day when we move about and function in our lives. And I think I mean, I it's so it's cliche, but I really think you don't have anything if you don't have your health and I think, you know, if, if, if there's not any sort of if there's no systems in place that help you maintain that level of health, then it's you lose your autonomy and you lose your independence and you lose your self empowerment. And it's, you know, those, those are the most important things. And if you don't have it, what do you have?

Kit Heintzman 20:20
How do you perceive the current medical infrastructure to be handling COVID-19? where you are, and when you're answering, think about sort of like the scales of where you're answering. So think about the difference between a local hospital versus a statewide, those kinds of things.

Laura Larson 20:36
Totally, you know, I, I think, I'm sorry, my, my partner's shoveling right now. So I'm sorry, if that ends up being a weird background noise. It's Minnesota, we've got snow. I think as far as the the medical system in place in Minneapolis, as far as I can tell, things have been really smooth. As much as they can be during this whole process. I don't think we've run out of ICU beds, I don't think we've, you know, had any sort of real, like, oh, man, like, we really got to hit the panic button on this. I think that, I think, I think there are some political issues that are the most frustrating thing about this whole thing, and a lot of pressure coming from a lot of different places, especially when you kind of get outside of the city and start looking statewide and into maybe more conservative towns that that's, you know, put pressure on the governor to open up, you know, restaurants and stuff when maybe it isn't the best time to do that. And so I think that's been a little frustrating to watch, because you can see in real time how people bend to political pressure and and don't take, you know, the necessary steps to keep people safe, because they're afraid of the repercussions of a certain group of people. And I think we see that on a statewide level. And I think we see that, you know, in, in a smaller level within Minneapolis as well. Our mayor has notoriously been really spineless throughout this entire process. And I think, you know, his, his spinelessness is a little more towards our, the political end of that spectrum and how he responded to, you know, the calls for defunding the police and things after George Floyd was murdered. But I think, you know, I think Minneapolis has done a fairly good job getting information about COVID out to the communities that are around the city, including those who don't speak English as a first language, we have a really large East African Community, and I know one of the main priorities was getting information to those communities. And I think we're pretty good at stepping up to that. And a lot of times, you know, it's not necessarily the city or the systems of the city that are going to do that, it's going to be a lot of local organizations, and a lot of places that work, you know, already are working and have working relationships with these communities that are, are sort of meant as nonprofit resources or community groups or, like, you know, like, health services and stuff. And I think that this, you know, this past year has really shown me to, like if you're going to rely on anybody, like those are the people to rely on because they're not going to bend to political pressure, they're not going to bend to, you know, feeling like they're gonna lose votes if they do the right thing. And so, if, you know, if nobody's looking out for us, we're looking out for each other, I guess.

Kit Heintzman 24:09
What are some of the things that you would like for your own health and the health of those around you?

Laura Larson 24:20
I would like people to have access to information about their own health and about their own bodies, and that people could have access to food that isn't pumped full of preservatives or isn't real food at an affordable price, and to have access to nature and green, the greenery outside. I think that's like massively important for people's health. Mental Health services for everybody. I think, you know, those and like all of this stuff, starting at a young age and not, you know, I think I think starting that sort of education and that sort of empowerment, young with kids, it sticks with them. And it, it crafts, a society that is more invested in health and, you know, is is not is able to balance, you know, like, this urgent, like, we got to move fast time just grab this food and like eat it really quickly because it's cheap, and it's there and kind of shifted into like, a little more like, mindfulness with how we are get, like giving these resources to people because I think, I don't know, it's, it's, it's like I get it, if you don't have the time and you don't have the resources, health is not a priority until it's gone. And so I think prevent, like, preventative measures and being you know, having having resources that people can access before health gets bad, I think is going to be the number one thing.

Kit Heintzman 26:18
What do you think it is that needs to be done in order for us to attain that?

Laura Larson 26:27
I mean, I think it's a lot, I think, I think, you know, healthy food access is something that I look at every day, and I think about every day, and the amount of people, you know, in on my block that you know, couldn't afford food or couldn't afford good food. Um, I think that, you know, you, you could trace that all the way to, you know, what, what industries are getting, you know, subsidized by the government, what sort of, you know, where do we, where do we put our priority is in terms of how we choose how to feed our community is and, you know, how, like, what is it about our land that, you know, we have stolen and turned into this inaccessible, fast paced, environmentally degrading, like system, you know, it's, there's so there's, I, there's so much that needs to be done with it. And I wouldn't even know where to start I don't think, I mean, I think there's a level of like, you know, individualism that comes with it, if you know, it's, you can make a choice to do things, but really, like, you can't make a choice, if you don't have the choice, you know, it's like, I can make a choice to be vegan, because I have access to vegan food, I can make a choice to ride my bike, because I have access to bike paths that bring me to work like I can, I can make these choices, because I have the opportunity to make these choices. But I think if the systems aren't in place to allow for people to make those choices, and they don't have any information or education or or time or anything, if they've got a million other things to worry about, you know, of course, you can't make those individual choices, and it's not going to come down to every single person, you know, growing a little garden to feed their family. It'd be cute if that was a solution but that's not going to be the solution and and i think you know, if we if we keep prioritizing factory farming and oil, you know, and all of this stuff that's really just shredding the earth to pieces and then say like, Why is everyone so sick all the time? Like why do we have these pandemics? This is why what you know pandemics start because we are destroying the earth basically and it's not you know, it sounds very like pie in the sky liberal talk or something to say that but I really think that's true. I think that like the way we treat the planet has a direct effect on how we treat ourselves and our health.

Kit Heintzman 29:22
May ask what safety means to you?

Laura Larson 29:24
Mm hmm. Safety to me, means living an honest life and not fear not fearing your surroundings and not fearing yourself and not fearing the systems. And the environment that surround you.

Kit Heintzman 30:05
How have you been determining what feels safe for you these days? And how have you been negotiating that with other people sharing space with you?

Laura Larson 30:13
Mm hmm. So I think when I'm looking, when I'm looking at what safety means, to me, I look at the facts of the scenario. So if I'm, you know, if I'm making an informed choice about, you know, if I should wear a mask at the grocery store, for example, I'm making that choice because I'm listening to experts on the matter telling me that that's the safe choice to make. In the same way that you know, if, if I feel, let's see, I think there might also be a level of like, gut instinct about things. And you know, if I feel unsafe, going outside, for a walk in my neighborhood at night, there's no expert telling me that that's not safe. But I inherently understand that, like, there is a level of unsafety as like a, you know, a cisgendered woman walking around outside at night, and that's just in our, it's in our bones, it's in our history, we know what that is, we know what it feels like. And being aware of that gut instinct, I think, has been a pretty good source of information for me too. And you know, and I think being, you know, taking that with a grain of salt and not saying like, Well, I know, I do feel safe at the grocery store without a mask on, it's like, I'm not, you know, going to override the medical opinion of someone to, like, you know, to, like, say that I personally feel safe doing something. But, um, I do think that there is a lot of, there seems to be a lot of gray area, in this pandemic, with how people approach their own visions of safety and approach their own. I don't want to say excuses, necessarily about just sort of the way that everybody interacts with each other about it seems to be a little. Like, where can we be the exception to the rule sort of thing where, you know, some folks will think that it feels safe to hang out outside with their friends, some people don't think that safe at all. And the, the overarching medical advice on that has kind of been a little gray area, wishy washy. And so it has been a little hard to, to say, like, well, who's right here, I mean, like, if you want to be ultimately safe, then you don't go out at all, you don't see anyone at all. And then when you do that, it's you know, it's kind of akin to abstinence based sex education or something where you're, it's, it's gonna happen anyway. So how do we do it in the safest way possible. And I think that's kind of where I've landed, and a lot of my peers have landed, where, you know, I'm not personally going to go to a restaurant, like, I'm not going to go to a bar, that's not going to be my thing. I would hang out outside distanced from my friends. But I would not hang out inside with my friend. So you know, it's it's, that's my personal take on what safety is. And I think a lot of the choices that we're making with that have to do with the communication we have with the people in our lives. And I talked to my partner about, you know, where we're at with our level and feeling safe going places, and and, yeah, kind of take it from there.

Kit Heintzman 34:02
How are you feeling about the immediate future? And what are some of the things you want for a longer term future?

Laura Larson 34:15
the immediate future feels. I think right now, the immediate future is a little frustrating because we're waiting on the vaccine. I think that's a distribution of the vaccine has been a little messy. It's messy in Minnesota right now. Right now, what the big push for is advocating for grocery store workers to have vaccine priority. And we don't even have all of our elderly population vaccinated yet. So it's, I think the immediate is kind of feeling frustrated with the slow process of vaccine roll outs in the state. And I know you know, we're not the only ones dealing with that and I don't know I think collectively we're all and this is I think short term and long term. We're all kind of dealing with a lot of collective trauma right now around the events of the past year and you know, not only the pandemic and you know and and the effects of that but the social uprising this summer and the massive divide between political ideals and you know, the rise of conspiracy theory is like I have family members that are like deeply into conspiracy theories and it's really it's really hard and like i don't i think that there's a big reconciliation that we're gonna have to make with stuff like that with the siege of the Capitol with what's happening in Texas right now just everything is and that's just in this country you know, like let alone what's happened with the rest of the world this past year I think, you know, we we take all of this in and whether or not it's you know, immediately like, like, Oh my gosh, oh, no, this is too much. It's, I think it just like seeps into us, and it's like within us so deep right now that I think there's there's gonna have to be

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