Leland "Lee" Larson

President, The Larson Legacy Foundation
Portland, OR, United States

About Leland "Lee"


I love learning. I love TED. One speaker referred to TED as "ideas having sex!" Right on! TED is contageous, moves me to action. I feel so re-inspired after a gathering. Grateful as well. I learn. Now, having retired (an dubious expression?), I get to serve others, often by means of a foundation I created . There are a few family members and friends involved. We want to help make the world a more compassionate, kinder place. Having seen a few "new years" (and this is the day!), lots of my path is so now visible to me when I look in the mirror. The past sort of created the "me" of now and its perambulations make more sense to me now. My working in the fields as a youth, doing odd jobs. Brief stints in teaching and politics. My travels. Most of all, learning to "vision" and risking my livelihood in pursuing my dreams during my business years. It became a shared and more of a co-creation as everyone became involved in knowing that living one's dream is possible. We had, so it seemed, unlimited power to do about anything and it was fun! And, here I am--doing a most glorious retirement job as well. Of late, supporting a new homeless encampment right in the middle of Portland, getting to do some laundry for "occupy." And, being part of this soup........ living the mystery. Namaste.


English, Italian

TED Conferences

TED2015, TEDGlobal 2014, TED2014, TEDGlobal 2013, TED2013, TEDGlobal 2012, TED2012, TEDGlobal 2011, TED2011, TEDGlobal 2010, TED2010, TEDGlobal 2009, TEDActive 2009, TED2008

Areas of Expertise

Learning , Being, Giving Back & Helping Others

An idea worth spreading

If it doesn't bring you joy, why are you doing it? ("If you don't have a sense of humor, it's just not funny" courtesy of Wavy Gravy) Bee Here Now!

I'm passionate about

Philanthropy, basketball, bees, my most challenged puppy ("Karma"), my chickens, obesity issues (lap band surgery anyone?), homeless folks, relationships, internet dating, ping pong, dancing,fun....

Talk to me about

You--what makes you feel truly alive. Your passions, your loves....

People don't know I'm good at

Beekeeping, coaching basketball , facilitating energetic, inspirational group games, and just playing and loving in this most precious dance.....

My TED story

II love learning -- curious about everything. TED gives me joy. I am forever grateful to Dr. Larry Brilliant, a former prizewinner (etc.), for introducing me to to this most lovable "contagion." I learn from TED and its fellowship. And, I get to apply some of those learnings. That's satisfying and fun for me, it makes me feel so alive being out there and in here. I'm grateful.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted 5 months ago
David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful
I have done a gratitude journal 'off and on' for some three years now, usually a few often disjointed words or max of a sentence. I see much better than before, notice more of the gems, beauty and kindnesses in any given day. It takes little effort and, regardless, I do slack off or just forget...and then start doing it again. It nurtures my spirit. As a hobby beeman, I've often found that bees "don't see slow." That's a revelation to a person that has acted under the premise of "happiness is action." I am an older fellow and think I've found a form of life extension! "Bee Here Now."
Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted 10 months ago
Candy Chang: Before I die I want to...
My single seniors meet up group created "before I die I want to..." doors for "Right2DreamToo", an illegal rest area right in the middle of downtown Portland for those who are houseless. A hit! This group instead of fences, has artistically illustrated doors. "Before I die" facilitates aliveness, storytelling, the sharing of dreams and hopes for the future. The process reinspires and creates change and action coming from deep within. There are 100 folks here directly off the streets and instead of being separate and alone, they are becoming a "together". They are taking charge of their lives, and changing our community as well, refusing to be invisible, cowering in shame under bridges and brush. Thank you Candy (and TED).
Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted 12 months ago
How can newspapers survive the web
They could become more like magazines, meaning having appeal as a printed "newspaper" that has columns on bridge, or tech, or travel, or how to fix, or adventures to experience, or expert columns, and tags galore (TED tag?!). Would give consumer advice, have articles on sex, family, child rearing, health, business, locally created cartoons, poems, then health and all packaged nicely, maybe with cutting edge graffics. I feel that it is of necessity, sort of like Huffington report, to start having volunteer "columnists", and young journalists guided by veteran writers, editors. Team up with other magazines and newspapers both, partner with others and become known as a most wise, knowledgeble source of information, and activism on the home front, then having all the special interests, and world news, some of which your volunteer or long distant readers have created, eye witness so to speak. Take on risky topics and present readers with intelligent options, ways to take action. Get citizens and readers to SOLVE problems proposed by "City Hall" and its departments,--it is amazing the resources out there and people willing to help, come up with implementable ideas, xprize contests for low cities! Let the community help team up and solve problems, proposed city wide initiatives that will create more of a sense of community, connecting people. Contests galore! Month where we all read the same book! Musician events, art and comedy events, and even a TEDxCity of Portland Spirit. Think of the New York Times magazine turned into "tabloid-like" newspaper still using color, with creative local graphic artists and designers featured and give them credit, where design becomes an attractive part of the newspaper. Think Tribune combined with the "Portland Magazine" and "Willamette Week" and Huff. Report, and Guardian newspaper. Hire young and hire old. Explore Edinburgh, Berlin, London, Rio for their alives! This newspaper will light up our cities and our lives!
Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted over 1 year ago
Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA
I will send you a few photos of the village. One of the original founders, Ibrahim Mubarak, has now formed (two years running) a group called " Right 2 Dream 2"in the middle of Portland which has about 90 people off the streets nightly. They are being fined regularly and those are doubled each month. And, given the success of Dignity Village, the City is motivated more than ever to possible create another site in a vacant lot (in this case near or in the downtown so as to move this "problem" away from the sight of downtown businesses and passerby's Ibrahim and many others also been active in helping get through the California committee (moves this to the assembly for a vote) last month-- the "Homeless Bill of Rights" patterned after the one passed in Providence, Rhode Island. They only have one small plot (5' x 10') for gardening and I suspect after seeing your awesome presentation he may be considering figuring out how to go up vertically with it. There are no fences around this fledgling community but abandoned doorways that are painted by local artists and they have utilized some of J R's organization already to utilize photographs (so far all removed quickly by the city and such but now some of the doors will be utilized instead so I hear!). Congratulations-- I am in awe of Ted talks and folks like you that are inspiring folks in my backyard to action, "happiness being action" so to speak. Don't often engage in the blogs (just read and dream about and learn from) but could not resist sharing with you the influence of your courage to do good. Thank you dear one.
Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted over 2 years ago
'TEDfriend/colleague finder' - Your opinion required.
Hi Xavier! Awesome idea here. Sign me up. How can I help? I function best working with others on a "vision" or even a most small local project. Makes it fun and I get energized from the interaction. And will imseemyou in Edinburgh oe later on when I visit London ? ( I like how you compare this with a "dating site" which I've done for some years but here we will hopefully find lots of other 'soulmates' with whom to collaborate ( or have fun with!).
Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted over 3 years ago
Is permaculture a feasible alternative to traditional agriculture?
Why is your question an "either or?" All sorts of principles of permaculture as I've experienced can be incorporated into traditional agriculture, whatever that is ("prevailing wisdom" or overall "practices"?). To me the more important aspect of your question is how to learn and grow, then apply with greater consciousness and respect such principles in agriculture, which I think can be viewed additionally as just a component of our ecosystems. "Natural" seems to me sort of like the wall that we have erected between Mexico and the US. My bees seem to "love" some of the (unnatural ) ways we've given them a more expressive playing field.
Leland "Lee" Larson
Posted over 3 years ago
Should Governments start to measure what really matters to people - their happiness? Or should they stay out of such a private matter?
To me, the thought that our government, the broader "self" we all might own, cares about our happiness in more than dollar terms and thinks, hopefully, to just ask pertinent questions of us, would be an indication of some expansion of consciousness and therefore of value. And, it does remind me of Buddha's reflection that "the root of all suffering, is that of comparison." Meaning to me," are you happy?" being the wrong question. It requires me to compare, pick the numero uno "happy meal" of my life or however recent time period ... and now sort of measure any new event on this fictional scale. When I do that, I find myself boxed and judged by me, ultimately paying the price of straight-jacketing my consciousness, suffering the fool in me. Got it all figured so on with the show....