Coexistence is Hard, Just ask the Fox and the Coyote

I’ve known the remarkable Jane Kim for going on 10 years now, after falling for one of her earlier works at a show in the Mission district of San Francisco. The birds in this lovely painting are a welcome balance to the urban (busy, sometimes challenging and frantic) life that surrounds me.

We stayed in touch, and as New Sincerity grew and Jane and her work found their way into National Geographic, Fast Company and the de Young Museum I saw a chance to inspire some change together.

I’m honored to share the first in a series of stories in our new collaboration - a piece about coexistence. San Francisco is going through some growing pains, and money, power and empathy all play a part in the healing.

Turf Wars / Jane Kim / 2016

Coexistence is Hard, Just ask the Fox and the Coyote

Before the Polo Fields, before Hippie Hill and before becoming a staple of the festival circuit, SF’s Golden Gate Park was literally a pile of sand. It was late-19th-century designers, not nature, that created the thousand-acre green space with imported flora and fauna. Even the squirrels were shipped in from the East Coast.

At the park’s de Young Museum, artist-in-residence Jane Kim’s show (non)Native explored the tension between old and new that built, shaped and is reshaping San Francisco. This show, like a lot of her art, crossed over easily into mainstream conversations in pubs like National Geographic and Fast Company.

Take a look at her piece ‘Turf Wars’. A fox and coyote fight over a Facebook lanyard. Both the fox and the coyote are natives of Northern CA, but there have been calls for the coyotes to be removed from the land out of fear of attack while the foxes have largely gotten a pass. Both animals are in fact necessary to local ecology and potentially dangerous to humans. Foxes benefit from their public perception as cute and non-threatening while coyotes get a rap as bloodthirsty.

If this is starting to sound familiar that’s good. Cause the FB lanyard isn’t an accident — tech gets a bad rap in SF. Some of it is deserved. But is it really the singular cause of the city’s problems? Not hardly. Just like the hipsters, dot-commers, hippies, beatniks, or ‘49ers — and just like the coyote and the fox — the techies aren’t inherently good or bad for San Francisco.

San Francisco isn’t unique here. America, too, was built and shaped by its people. And it will continue to be built and shaped by them. It’s up to the public (us!) to come together and decide what to save of ‘old’ America and what the new version will be. Then, like the people who lived and loved this country before us, we get down to work.

Jane and her work hit the heart of what we’re doing at New Sincerity. Our #resistance is in seeing past stereotypes and moving forward together.

Big thanks to my editor Jason Crase for his work.