Jim Hanson, Public Works Director, City of Rockford, Ill. (Nels Akerlund photo)

Genuine Northwest Passions

Meet some of the people whose passions for their work shine through their accomplishments.

Jim Hanson, Public Works Director, City of Rockford, Ill. (Nels Akerlund photo)

Jim Hanson, public works director for the City of Rockford, has a passion for coordinating people and services. A former manager for UPS, he spent 30 years traveling the country, ensuring that packages arrived efficiently at their destinations.
Today, the 53-year-old manages the crews that keep Illinois’ third-largest city running. Within his purview fall the services that matter most to residents, from snow plowing and road construction to street maintenance, storm water management and the operation/maintenance of 300 busy intersections.
Life is hectic, but the Waukegan, Ill., native just smiles.
“You’ve got to go through hard times to know when you’ve got a good thing going,” he says. “I’ve moved around a lot in my career, but right now I’m in a place where I love what I’m doing and the people I work with.”
Jim Julin, artist (Nels Akerlund photo)

Jim Julin has a lifelong passion for creativity. Some of his work stands outside the Rockford Art Museum (RAM) and Shumway Market in downtown Rockford. Today, he creates artwork from found materials, crafting pieces from exotic wood, antlers and metals. A lifetime portfolio of Julin’s work is included in a display this fall at RAM.
By day, 55-year-old Julin works odd jobs as a landscaper, small-scale remodeler and carpenter.
When he’s not on the job, he’s holed away in his basement studio, working amid piles of sawdust, pieces of wood and various materials that caught his eye during walks around town.
For this artist, it’s all about discovery.
“When I’m working on a piece, I don’t start with a sketch or any preconceived notion,” he says. “The material has to tell me where to go.”
Azumaya Viewing House One of the original structures in Anderson Japanese Gardens, the viewing house was constructed by master carpenter Masahiro Hamada of Tokyo. It provides a place to sit, reflect and be completely satisfied. (Jeff Anderson)

Ts a self-taught artist, Jeff discovered his passion for photography as a teenager taking pictures of Anderson Japanese Gardens. In admiration of his older brother David’s photography, Jeff purchased his first camera at the age of 17. A love for the garden led him to devote his talent to capturing its beauty. His photographs of the garden’s landscapes showcase its elegant, spiritual terrain. As years passed, and his love deepened for the art, Jeff began exploring areas outside of the garden. Currently, he photographs landscapes around the local area and plans to do more in other regions. Jeff’s passion for photography and his quest for the perfect image never cease, as he explores this world with an undying determination to express his vision of beauty and his profound respect for nature.

Go behind the scenes of Nels’ photo shoots. View the YouTube video below