Downtime with John Larson

John Larson, CEO of Terwilliger Plaza, discusses work and play.

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What I’m reading
I enjoyed The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. My clothes are talking to me again, at least those that remain. A Year in Provence was great while visiting France recently. Currently reading Pacific by Simon Winchester; it has scads of offbeat, interesting information about the ocean 100 miles to the west of us.

What I’m watching 
August: Osage County was wickedly funny, insightful and brilliantly acted. House of Cards is the best binge watch around, except for the third season. Downton Abbey is a must if you don’t mind the blatant, British classism. Makes me glad we won the revolution.

My iPhone but I’m trying to get unaddicted. Seeing so many people blank-face gazing at their phones reminds me of the scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where Jack Nicholson’s getting electric shock therapy on the gurney. This is what I feel is happening to us, yet we don’t realize it. Remove the electrodes from your heads, people!

Latest download
Not so big on apps, but I love appetizers such as the smoked nuts at Fratelli’s and the twice-fried chicken skins at the Gilt Club, but they both closed. I purposely wanted to answer that like a politician since this is the season.

Family traditions
Creative fighting. There are so many innovative ways to blame family members for why we didn’t turn out the way we thought we should have. My wife and I love cooking two smallish turkeys for Thanksgiving: one traditional in the oven and one herb-injected bird slow smoked over indirect heat on a Weber charcoal grill, followed by a heated Monopoly game.

No place like … 
I’d love to say Portland, because of its unique flavor and location, but that’s too predictable. Astoria holds a special place in my heart, and San Francisco is a fabulous city to visit, although I have no desire to live there. It’s hard to choose because most cities exude a distinct ambience, though I’m obviously partial to the West Coast.

You were appointed CEO last month. What’s on your agenda?
Getting to know the resident members, staff and unique history of Terwilliger Plaza. It’s been going strong since 1962, and I’d like to do everything within my ability and interfl uence to see that tradition continue.

Senior-living trends? 
Discovering how technology can enhance older adult lives. We all want to remain independent and in control of our own destiny. Seniors are no different. Monitoring and intervention devices can assist greatly, but there is generational reluctance, which should start to change with the boomers. Related to that is the village movement that was started in Boston and has spread nationwide.

Challenges ahead
Expectations of the boomers. It’s my generation, and we want what we want when we want it. Finding and keeping qualified staff is the other big one. Senior living facilities rely so heavily on the human touch. We’ve got to find better ways to help meet our staff needs so they can meet our residents’ needs. 

Why I’m motivated
The opportunity to work in a senior-led community that wants to keep getting better. There’s this idea that older, more experienced adults are winding down. I don’t buy that or see that at work here! Freed of obligations and expectations, many seniors become more adventurous and curious, which leads them to undertake different pursuits.