Who We Are
We wanted to raise
Dr. Roberta Hunte and Dawn Jones Redstone met while working at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., a non-profit that helps women access careers in construction—one of the few jobs that doesn’t require an expensive college degree and pays a living wage. As a journey-level carpenter and former member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Dawn served as Training Manager while Roberta was a Career Counselor. Together, they served many women and, over and over, saw both the passion women have for working in the trades and the resistance that women and women of color face. During this time, in addition to teaching, Dawn made over thirty videos documenting the tradeswoman experience.
Roberta went on to write a dissertation on the experience of black tradeswomen titled “My Walk Has Never Been Average: Black Tradeswomen Negotiating Intersections of Race and Gender In Long Term Careers in The United States’ Building Trades.” Through her collaboration with Bonnie Ratner, the thesis was successfully turned into a well-received play by the same name Meanwhile, Dawn went on to pursue filmmaking full time at Hearts+Sparks Productions. They stayed in touch over the years and, given Roberta's success with the play and Dawn's success with video, Dawn approached Roberta about the prospect of making a short film in hopes of reaching an even wider audience with the themes from Roberta's thesis.
As two people of color (Roberta is African American, Dawn is Latina), the two were ready to tell a story that uses cinematic elements to bring to light the issues faced by Black tradeswomen like the lead character in the movie, Laneice. They believe the more people they reach, the more hearts and minds can be illuminated about the work women love to do and the work women have been doing for quite a while in the construction trades.
Dawn Jones Redstone (Director, Executive Producer, Co-Writer)
Dawn Jones Redstone is an award-winning gay, Latina filmmaker living in Portland, Oregon. She worked as a union carpenter for six years before becoming a carpentry instructor at a non-profit called Oregon Tradeswomen. In 2012, she left to pursue her dream of filmmaking full time and started Hearts+Sparks Productions with a focus on community-minded media. In 2014, she collaborated with Dr. Roberta Hunte to raise over $13,000 on Kickstarter and received a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to make Sista in the Brotherhood. The film has gone on to receive multiple awards and is currently on the film festival circuit.
As an artist, she is fascinated by stories of personal transformation and the interior monologues that move us forward. Feminism and emotionality are strong threads running through her work. She is committed to creating films that help balance the media representation of women and people of color both in front of and behind the camera.
Dawn is the recipient of the MRG Foundation's 2016 Lilla Jewel Award and was named a Woman of Vision by the Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce. She's also a journey-level carpenter from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. You can learn more about her and her work as an award-winning filmmaker here She is also the director of the reproductive justice short film We Have Our Ways and the co-writer and director of the pilot of Gabby Smashes, a web series about being a person of color working at nonprofit in the whitest city in America.
Dr. Roberta Hunte (Executive Producer, Producer, Author of Inspiration for Film)
Roberta is an educator, facilitator, consultant, and cultural worker. She is an Assistant Professor in Black Studies and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies at Portland State University where she teaches courses on reproductive justice, inequality, feminisms, and the African American experience. She also facilitates trainings on equity, diversity and inclusion.
In 2013 she began collaborating with playwright Bonnie Ratner on the play My Walk Has Never Been Average. Walk celebrates the careers of African American tradeswomen and is based on interviews she conducted with 15 tradeswomen for her doctoral thesis. She is thrilled to collaborate with Dawn Jones Redstone on Sista in the Brotherhood, which seeks to dramatize themes of Black women's experiences in the industry. Tradeswomen only make up 3 percent of the construction workforce. Women of color tradeswomen make up 1 percent of that number. This is important work and the contributions of women in building this country are easily overlooked. Policy and cultural shifts are needed to bring more women, and people of color into the industry, and to encourage their retention and promotion. Walk and Sista seek to dramatize the complexity of these experiences and the humanity of the women involved.
She loves listening to people's stories. When we hear stories we are invited to feel and understand experiences more deeply. She has found from working with audiences who have seen both Walk and Sista that cross-cultural bridges of empathy and awareness are built through engaging with the characters and stories on the stage and screen.
She is excited to begin working with Director Kate Ming Tien Duffly of Reed College on a project to collect and dramatize reproductive stories from communities of color. This project is in collaboration with Western States Center and their We are BRAVE (Building Reproductive Autonomy and Voices for Equity) initiative.