San Jose. The city without a face. The city without a culture. The city where people are stuck and long to get out. A city long forgotten, overshadowed, and ignored. Or so that is the narrative, that is the perception. Not just by those on the outside looking in, but by some on the inside looking out. It is this San Jose, that is now front and center, as the Sharks play in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in the 25 year history of the hockey club. It is this San Jose that has a chance to move from ambiguity to becoming redefined.
Scott Herhold from the Mercury News wrote on the power of a Stanley Cup win for the city of San Jose, and I think that this could not be more true. Timing is everything, and no truer statement could be made about San Jose. San Jose’s time is now. The city is in the beginning of a great urban transformation, with both public and private leadership creating bold visions for the future of the city. There could be no better time for a city to fall in love with itself and begin to define who we are to the outside world.
San Jose’s unheralded narrative is that of a city of production. Whether it was mining quicksilver from cinnabar in South San Jose during the gold rush, or growing, grafting, drying, and canning fruit sent around the world from the Valley of the Hearts Delight, or today as it manufactures the hardware that drives the innovation of Silicon Valley, San Jose has been an instrumental and influential city to the world. Yet it hasn’t always received the credit or the respect.
Maybe that disrespect has created a culture that lacks self-confidence, and civic pride, feeding into apathy, and self-loathing. Or maybe that disrespect is why San Joseans carry such large chips on their shoulders when our city is compared to San Francisco constantly. Whatever the reasons, our city’s narrative has been one of a bridesmaid and less of a bride.
But not at this moment. Not for these next few weeks. San Jose is now the bride. Our Sharks are competing for the Stanley Cup, to have their names permanently engraved into history. For the next few weeks, this city is not hosting another sport’s championship, played by outside teams, but rather hosting it’s own team’s championship series. Now is the time for San Joseans to embrace our city, to unite together and forge a new attitude and civic pride that inspires our team. We deserve this and we should celebrate this. And maybe having a local team winning a championship of a sport played on ice means fairly little to the future historians of San Jose, but other cities have been defined by far less. So let us not pass up the chance to form our own narrative right now. Go Sharks! Go San Jose!