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  • Writer's pictureKriss Marion

New Podcast Celebrates Women's History Month with Una VanDuvall and Ife Olatunji

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

It's been a minute since we did a Queen Bee Session (we've been busy planning our first-ever conference!) but we're so delighted to get back on the air during Women's History Month with artist/activists Una VanDuvall, the MKE Women's Urban Ag Network community organizer, and her daughter Ife Olatunji, a visual ethnographer who founded Freedom Lover Films.

While we were on the interview with this dynamic duo, the doorbell rang and a delivery person dropped off a Grammy Box for Ife! She didn't win, but in 2022 she helped film and produce a documentary that was nominated. Our conversation touched on agriculture, history, community, justice, legacy and what it means to be a person committed to making the world better.

Una has deep roots in Milwaukee as a community organizer, non-profit manager and strategic planning consultant. She serves on the board of several agricultural and local food organizations, including the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and the Wallace Center. In a previous phase of her life, Una worked in Milwaukee City Government. Now, Wisconsin Women in Conservation is blessed to have Una as a community liaison to the many robust urban farm organizations in and around the city. And you should hear her sing! (But we'll pick that up on another podcast.)

But Una also has a uniquely powerful history as a Kansas farm girl with deep roots, still living roots, in the town of Nicodemus - a frontier community established by African Americans at the end of the Civil War that still survives today. Una and her family continue to support and organize the famous Nicodemus Homecoming every July, and in fact 2023 will be the 145th Emancipation Celebration.

You can read all about the history of Nicodemus at the National Park Service website and watch many great historical videos.

Ife grew up dividing her time between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, while spending occasional summer weekends in Nicodemus. Her connection to history was always strong, but she was introduced to Anthropology at a young age by a family friend and knew she knew she wanted to travel the world taking pictures by the end of high school. Ife received her BA in Anthropology and minor in African American History from Syracuse University in New York, and her MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester, UK in 2010.

Ife has conducted comparative observational fieldwork in Brazil, Ghana, Dominican Republic, India, and most recently Nigeria. She works with women, girls, and children to examine complex social issues through short ethnographic films. She makes films that document the daily lives of people of color, especially women, using cinéma vérité.

Ife continues her work as a photographer and documentary filmmaker working in LA. She continues to edit and produce documentaries for various private clients and organizations - some of which get nominated for Academy Awards!

Watch our conversation below, or follow our Queen Bee Sessions account on Spotify!

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