In late 2019, our treasured book project was finally completed and ready to be printed overseas. Dick had taken more than 4,000 photos, and I had interviewed over 100 merchants, residents, and non-profit organizations. Still, there was more to be done. The team needed to add another member to facilitate social media. Dick knew from his previous book, SF Mission, that creating a website presence, Facebook page, and now, an Instagram account, would be imperative. Through our publicist Andrea Burnett, Laura Pinzon was hired as our digital media strategist to come up with creative ideas, post updates, and keep content fresh and relevant.
When the pandemic hit, Laura was suddenly called upon to serve as the IT lead for virtual book talks. We had no experience with this and no plans in place. We had high hopes of roaming bookstore to bookstore to interact with readers and do book signings.
Laura instantly became an “essential worker” in setting up and running the Zoom meetings, managing slide shows, and delivering on post-production requests including sending useful resource links and event recordings. For the past year and a half, she deftly enabled us to reach people we never would have connected with otherwise. None of us knew of the Chinese American Friendship Association of Maine or of the Brookdale Asia Society at the Brookdale Community College in New Jersey.
These presentations ran smoothly due to Laura’s sharp troubleshooting skills and quick reflex action when Dick or I could not locate the Zoom link or found our Internet signal so weak it sometimes would break up our voices.
Her calming voice and tech expertise enabled us to pull off over forty virtual events. Up until recently, she has been residing in Greater Chinatown. Now our IT guru is moving on to Colombia, her home country. While she will continue running our online presentations and our social media, her presence, as they say, “will be sorely missed.”
Here, Laura reflects on the significant events of this project that have been very
Chinatown Book SF: It has been a fantastic ride, Laura. You have juggled many social media and tech projects for the book. What was your favorite part of the job?
Laura: It was getting to know such an amazing team and to learn about Chinatown’s history on such a deep level. I lived close to San Francisco’s Chinatown for 3 years, and it was amazing to go there so often and know about its history in so much detail. Chinatown Book SF: What is your relationship with the Chinese culture?
Laura: I lived in Shanghai, China for two years in 2010. I had just finished high school and was taking a gap year. I have always loved to travel, visit new places, and experience new cultures. I studied Mandarin and started college there before going to New York City to finish college.
SF Chinatown: How did the experience in China relate to developing the online strategy?
Laura: It helped me create creative content for social media since I know the culture and some Mandarin.
SF Chinatown: We all have special pictures and stories we hold as dear. What are yours?
Laura: Some of my favorite images are the ones about Chinatown’s architecture and the stories behind them. I didn’t know that Chinatown’s beautiful structures were built by white men imitating China’s buildings. I also enjoyed learning about the SROs. I love the picture of Rev. Norman Fong praying with an elderly woman too sick to come downstairs. I also loved the mural which we thought was by an unknown artist and later discovered it was by Gail Aratani.
SF Chinatown: Do you have a single, favorite behind-the-scenes memory?
Laura: My favorite memory from doing this project was filming the first impressions from people in the book. It was such a nice video project and (after working with the still images of people) so interesting to see the same individuals, live, in person.
SF Chinatown: Laura, we wish you the best and look forward to continuing our friendship while you are in Colombia and wherever you end up next on the globe.