Renaissance men

By From page A4 | March 11, 2013

The story by Wendy Schultz about Jim Powers Gallery in Placerville, which ran on Page B1 in the March 4 Mountain Democrat, is an example of a man chasing a dream, and accomplishing it thanks to hard work and determination. But it may have never happened had his career not been derailed first.

Jim Powers, who worked in construction since age 17, broke his arm 13 years ago on a construction site and the resultant surgeries kept him out of work for three years. It was then that he let his love for photography blossom, snapping pictures of nature with a passion. Twelve years later he’s opened his own gallery displaying and selling his photographs.

In this day and age, with the economy as it is, with seemingly no jobs available and a highly-educated sea of prospective employees battling for whatever is out there, it’s almost a necessity to become a Renaissance man. Jim Powers found a way to do that, and now his secondary career has turned a tragedy into a dream for the rest of his life.

A Renaissance man is defined as “a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas.” In the past it meant someone who was an intellectual, skilled in several occupational arenas, usually the arts and sciences. Today, though, it could mean someone able to have multiple careers in different fields.

Anyone who has been unemployed for any length of time understands that the ability to have a secondary career could be huge in surviving tough times in America. As was the case with Powers, it saved him when his primary career seemed all but a memory.

An article by Dawn Hodson we ran in October 2012 titled “Pattern makers are a dying breed” told the story of pattern maker Billy Moore, 72, who since 1964 worked making patterns for various companies. As those companies shut their doors left and right, he had to adjust his profession using his various skills, and converted a chicken shed on his property into a workshop. Since 1999 he hasn’t been doing the same kind of work he’s done most of his life “once the foundry industry left me standing in the road,” he said.

Instead, Moore built a different business doing auto restorations and recreating vintage parts for customers. His skills transitioned well, and he has built a secondary career taking requests and making miracles happen with his hands.

Working one job your entire life is no longer common. In fact, it’s rare. As plants, factories and companies close down across the country, and professions that have been around for a century dwindle or transform, workers must learn to adapt to the changing times or end up on the street. Powers had a backup plan, even if it took an accident to make it come to fruition. Moore turned his skills into a secondary business that he loves, and his customers appreciate.

We all should set ourselves up to do the same. There’s no telling when the next round of pink slips will come, or if the career we have chosen will even still exist in 20 years. Thanks to technological advances, people are being replaced by machines or other new creations every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to pursue another dream when that happened to you?

Mountain Democrat

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