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"Creative Heights" VONY WORKSHOP in collaboration with Real Estate Arts



Judgement Day


2009 VONYSPEAK! Conference PSA


2010 VONYSPEAKS! Conference PSA



VONY Conference 2010


SEPTEMBER 25th 2010 at SYNERGY: A Cultural Collective for Social Change



workshops : panel discussions : art exhibit : film screening : kidz corner & more…

Key Note Speaker: Manyell Akinfe of OIEE

Catered by: Marian Isel Barragán 



 Workshop by Optimum Institute of Economic Empowerment:

“7 STEPS TO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT” Facilitated by Diane King of OIEE


**KEY NOTE SPEAKER : Manyell Akinfe **

“RISE OF THE TEACHING ARTIST (MODERN DAY MENTORS)” - What is a Teaching Artist?The job of the teaching artist is to allow a child to cultivate their own identity and through this process find their own voice. Sit and listen to experts discuss how teaching artists are impacting the lives of our children.
Nikki NTU: Teaching artist, Mcee, youth advocate
Rasu Jilani: coup d’état Brooklyn, Art Exhibit Producer / Social Activist
Manuel Gonzalez: All about, Youth Mentor
Brian Satz: Musician,  Music Mentor, Teacher at BCAM H.S.
Liz Gavin: Moderator

“MEDIA & IDENTITY” What role is the the media playing on a child’s identity?   An in-depth discussion about the current state of media and it’s impact on our children. Is media becoming just another tool to raise consumers out of or children? What kind of consumers are they becoming? What impression about money is the media providing our child and it’s value and does that affect their self image.
Keisha Dutes: Host and Executive producer, WBAI 99.5/Rise Up Radio
Davino Denegro: Co-host, WBAI 99.5/Rise Up Radio
Tiffany Richards: Filmmaker, youth media activist
Mary Pryor: Online Brand Development, We Fancy/Urban Socialista
Erike Mayo: Founder & President, Third EYE Rise Consulting, LLC.
Katy Walker: Moderator

“EDUCATION SYSTEM, POLICIES, 21st CENTURY LEARNING” Is the current educational system out of touch?  What changes are needed to engage the modern minds of our youth? How can we, as a community, improve the quality of education and increase the desire to excel, helping to raise graduation rates within underserved communities?
Shomwa Shamapande: Communications Director, Campaign for Better Schools(NYC)
Diallo Shabazz: Principal, Radical Ideas, LLC
Kanene Holder: Educator, Artist, Youth Advocate
Kareem Hertzog: Executive Director, OIEE, youth advocate
Christopher Emdin: Director of Secondary School Initiatives, Urban Science Education Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Craig Schley: Moderator


Youth made Films
I May Not Get There With You” (A Nu View) 3:46 min
Synopsis: Fresh off the success of the inaugural project of their youth filmmaking program, A Nu View, One Common Unity and Straight, No Chaser Productions are putting the finishing touches on their 2nd film titled, “I May Not Get There With You.”  This film will focus on the contrast between Dr. Martin Luther King’s classic “I Have A Dream” speech and the contemporary realities represented by urban streets named after the civil rights icon.

Short Films
“Breaking the Pipeline” (Global Action Project) 14mins
Producers: Luis Almodovar, Astrid Barreras, Lushaunda Campbell, Lisa Rivera, Brook Robinson, Edwin Rodriguez, Scarlet Spence, Austin Vazquez
Summary: A film that calls for restorative justice as an alternative method to the unjust zero tolerance policies and over-policing that students face in New York City public schools.

“Flavio”(Taagen Swa) 16mm color- 13 minutes
Winner Best Short Film at The 2004 Woodstock Film Festival
Shot on location in Bahia, Brazil this richly colorful film follows Flavio, an 11 year old boy from Salvador, who must find work to help his family.
Directors: Taagen Swaby & Jon Fine
Producers: Jon Fine, Taagen Swaby & Mira Melo
Director of Photography & Editor: Jon Fine

Program Video
Kids Dream In Color (VONY) 10 mins
Synopsis: This short documentary chronicles a group of young students participating in a program that tasks them with re-imagining the iconic Empire State building. The film follows the young artists as they visit the structure for inspiration, are guided in a visualization process, and mentored by professional artists to finally bring their creation to life. In creating their own versions of the building, they incorporated information they learned about environmental design, but most importantly, they included elements of themselves in a revealing way. The kids finally present their work on the final day, closing the chapter- but not the book, on a very fun and unique artistic experience. Interviews with the children, mentors, and parents provide provide the unique perspectives of each those involved and affected by the program.

Featured Trailer
Beyond the Bricks (Washington Koen Media films) 2:44 mins
Synopsis: Beyond the Bricks follows African-American students Shaquiel Ingram and Erick Graham as they struggle to stay on track in the Newark, NJ public school system. Weaved into the boys stories is commentary from some of the countries foremost scholars and experts focused on African-American boys and their education including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and Schott Foundation President Dr. John Jackson, among others. Through these two students personal stories, the film looks critically at the circumstances that are plaguing African-American communities overall, and offers up examples of people who are successfully combating these challenges.

Feature film
“Youth Zones” Lisa Russell  25 mins
Synopsis: YOUTH ZONES is a film and poetry initiative by Lisa Russell for UNFPA and the Women’s Refugee Commission that gives a voice to young people from Colombia, Lebanon, Liberia, New Orleans, and Northern Uganda, who share stories of struggle and resilience in the face of conflicts and natural disasters.


Taagen Swao , LichibanCannon Hersey, Indira Hersey, Alice MizrachiQuan Luv, The Love Movement


VONY's APT sessions




APTsessions is an underground event showcasing the talented players of the underground music and art scene in New York City. The events are held in unconventional event spaces - actual apartments, lofts, art galleries - in order to remove any pretentious attitudes and focus on the actual experiences of an intimate showcase. The goal is to create an environment where people can mix, mingle, network, and engage with like minded individuals and get to know the artists that make up the underground music and art scene.


VONY's APT sessions will be featuring My M.O. and hosted by no other than Thee Laura Dee and guest co-host Johnny Voltik! It will be held at Lotus Temple of Visions - 60 Summit Street Red Hook, NY. !!!!FREE EVENT!!!!

Come join us Sunday, AUGUST 1ST 2010, for an unforgettable music experience, featuring the screening of the new music video of My M.O.'s new single "Monkey" followed by an acoustic set. Doors open at 5pm and show starts at 8pm! This APTsessions will be family/kid friendly, so don't hesitate to come out if you can't get a babysitter. We will have food, drinks, goodies, great music DJ set by Extraction Jackson and special surprise guests attending! Make sure to come out and share your positive vibes with us! See you there!

And don't get forget to visit our MySpace to learn how you can get to know My M.O. better.








My M.O. Madness : V.O.N.Y.A.R.T.I.S.T.S.P.O.T.L.I.G.H.T.

Do you know Katy Walker, Dion McKenzie, and Erika Buestami? Well you should. They are the three talented artist/songwriters that make up the band My M.O. VONY’s ARTISTSPOTLIGHT Feature, My M.O. is a band with explosive rhythms and catchy sounds that leave you wanting to hear more. VONY would like you to get to know them just like we do and soon everyone will too at our special APTsessions coming soon this summer. Erika is a stylish southeast Asian EmCee and singer from Australia, that handles lead vocals and bass. Katy is a red-haired eclectic DJ from Texas who plays keys and does production and vocals. Dion is a Jamaican born rocker, that shreds guitar and sings back-up vocals. This band has hit NYC by storm! They are quickly booking shows through out the indie music scene, playing locally in Brooklyn and Manhattan. My M.O. has created a friendly buzz, keeping audiences intrigued for more! Want to know more? Take a look at our interview with them...

Interview with My M.O.

*VONY: Can you identify your band members and explain, how did you three meet, and how long have you been working together?*

Katy Walker, keys vocals, production
Erika Buestami, lead vocals, bass
Dion Mckenzie vocals, guitar

KW: I met Dion thru a friend a few years back and we began writing What I Want and also other songs that I had previously written with some other song writers. My DJ partner introduced me to Erika bc I was looking for an engineer to mix the trax and turns out she was a vocalist and an all around awesome person. Erika moved into Dion's neighborhood and the rest is history.

DM: Yea, I was introduced to Erika through Katy, which was quite the experience. Didn't know what to make of her at first. She was quite peculiar, did a whole bunch of impersonations which were outright hysterical! I'm a bit more quiet and reserved when I meet people for the first time, so I was just observing her and I was intrigued and I wanted to know more. Erika has that magical effect.

*VONY: What's it like working with each other and how does your diverse background affect it?*

KW: We have a great synergy and an intensity that makes it exciting for the band's live show to get tight so the music gets out to the world. Its a very passionate collaboration and crazy fun to work together. For example, I've always had a fascination with Jamaica and the music from there so Dion being Jamaican, her life story and how both her and Erika got here from other countries, I came from Austin to New York City for music, we met miraculously, it is totally inspiring to me and truly meant to be.

DM: Aww, thanks Katy.

*VONY: "Modus operandi" or "Method of Operation" means a person's way of doing things or their style. What is your M.O. and why was it chosen as the band's name?*

KW: Well music is our mo, guess that’s kind of our tagline. It was chosen because music is the platform for expression. When I came up with the name, I was thinking even though music doesn't make money and the industry has changed so dramatically it is an incredibly influential part of our world and a major platform for all that I do business wise too. I-phone apps, websites, films, whatever, its a spring board. Here's a great quote from an 19th century author who was a woman that wrote under a mans name.

“I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs, and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.” –George Elliot

*VONY: You guys have a define style. Does anybody help you with your fashion looks?*

KW: Dion and Erika have an incredibly unique sense of style and aesthetic, we actually all have a similar sense of aesthetic and fairly different style though I think since Dion and I are both athletes we have this kind of sporty hip look and Erika is more exotic and pulls from a bunch of different cultures for her style choices. Yes we do have someone who has helped with our style, he has helped me try to wear things that are a bit more sexy and flattering to my figure etc because I tend to get wrapped up in the music and forget about the presentation.

*VONY: Your lyrics are quite catchy who writes the songs and what are the common themes of your songs?*

KW: We all contribute to different things on the songs. Bonfire we all worked together on the lyrics. I do all the beats and work with another producer sometimes on the tracks. The actual music are chord progressions I dream up and that Dion and i work together on. Now we come up with stuff live as a band and I'm looking forward to recording them into Logic and working with everyone on them. The themes are really hard to pin down, but its just about being an independent woman, the ups and downs of the soul mate search, breaking the mold and also having a good time.

*VONY: What do you want people to take away, when they listen to your music?*

KW: We are heartfelt artists that use music as a platform to move you, both physically and emotionally. Its not about how great we are and how we look and all that shit, its about making music that makes you think and feel sexy or sad or even motivated to create your place in the world. We love life, self-expression, and making music so we hope we inspire our fans to do the same.

*VONY: What's your advice to any youth thinking of pursuing music?*

KW: Music is self expression, you can find yourself in your art form so pursue it with all your heart but don't covet it, its a journey. But remember it takes time and patience. Study theory and understand how you can write music but that does not mean you have to stick with the mainstream format. The tighter you are technically but at the same time the more original your ideas, the more influential your music will be. Also music is a platform to do other things, master it first and it will open so many doors for you.

*VONY: I saw on your MySpace page that Prince and Micheal Jackson were some of your influences, how much of their style has influenced your music. What's your favorite song by either one?*

KW: Prince "I would die for you" and "Controversy" is one of my favorites. I love the fact that he was so heartfelt and such a great musician but wrote pop music. He messed with your head, the lyrics: is he gay or is he straight? is he black or is he white? He forced people to deal with uncomfortable subject matters like mixing races and even bisexuality while making hit records. He's a huge influence for me, how he crossed over pop into black music, and rock with crazy synths and beats, he just made totally classic, timeless music.

*VONY: A lot of people are concerned with what the Disney channel is portraying to our youth. Last month Miley Cyrus performed on dancing with the stars and it caused alot of controversy. She has been accused of wearing cleavage-baring corsets, grinding with dancers, pretending to make-out on stage, and she was even been busted for dirty dancing with her "The Last Song" director Adam Shankman. Do you think the press is attacking Miley Cyrus or should she really tone down her act?*

KW: Yes I think sex is something to be played with subtly. I also think she is a pop star that does not write her songs and is not a true artist so she is part of this totally different type of machine. Prince messed with sex a lot, but it was part of his persona, it worked for him. It doesn't work for her, a lot of artists try things that don't work for their careers and then they suffer the consequences. I think a lot about how much sex we put in the music, but we are also writing sophisticated songs for adults not for teeny boppers so we have a license to do whatever we want. But we are also women and we can only use our sexuality so much before people stop taking us seriously. Its a fine line.

*VONY: How far along are you guys in the process of making your debut album?*

KW: Its pretty much done but we are focusing on the EP first and will try to wrap all the small details on the songs by September. I want to release it in October so the momentum keeps up but some people say we should wait until January of next year. We'll see what happens.

*VONY: What can people expect to come from My M.O. in the near future?*

A really great live show, hopefully tours outside the US. We are hoping to do a nice show for SXSW in Austin, my home town. The music videos are definitely working out for us, we have a very talented network of people collaborating with us. Bonfire is looking out to be the title track to the debut album now, so look out for a crazy music video for that.

*VONY: Art is ...(Complete the sentence)*

Art is life. Life is Art.

If you want to hear more visit our MySpace ArtistSpotlight page where you can listen to their newest single "Monkey" and find links to their music downloads! VONY Always brings you the Artist's You should Know about!

Contributing Blogger: Jenna Adovasio ~VONYintern


Post Conference: UPDATE

Though late in updating the blog, a lot has been shared via facebook and twitter which are on the left hand side of this page, free for those of you to join and stay updated on VONY progress, current news, events and info. Here is a list of events and news that have happened since our VONYspeak Youth Media/Arts Conference and Benefit!

We got to participate in ROCK THE BLOCK on Aug 15th 2009. An all day Artist Emergence Day long festival. Full of street vendors, fashion shows, performances, art exhibits, ect. VONY got to host the Word Sound Soul Lounge at Rebar. Hosted by Laura DEE VONY's favorite personality and activist and Spoken Word Artist Suzen Baraka(emerging VONY Teacing Artist. Artists like Oveous Maximus, Jeff Dess, Rainmaker, Tresure the Empress, Ihsan and many more were performing their spoken word, songs and sharing their love and wisdom with all. Also VONY'S very own Joel Mejia got to screen his film MIDDLE SCHOOL MIDDLE PASSAGE exclusively at the Word Sound Soul Lounge!

Also in other parts of the festival VONY program director and teaching artist LICHIBAN was spreading her talents as a visual artist and painted in the Canvas & Chaos BK Runway show! Nikki NTU shared her voice and performed her music during the event. A full day of art exchange and NYC Artist spotlight!

here are some pics from the event and trailer of the film!


Middle School/Middle Passage (The Journey)

Brownsville, New York is a tough neighborhood for young people. Plagued by its history of gang violence, drug dealing, low graduation rates and low self-esteem, the neighborhood schools represent the struggle to survive with as little bit of resources possible.

Middle School/Middle Passage (The Journey) is a raw and revealing documentary about an innovative arts program and the inspiring stories of teachers and students growing as they learn more about their African and Native American history.

ALSO: We had the pleasure of hitting up RISE UP RADIO on WBAI 99.5 FM with host TASTYKEISH, who showed love and support and gave VONY an opportunity to come on and broadcast live as her guests. Founder and Creative Director Suzanna-O and Visual Artist/Youth Mentor LICHIBAN, discussed the KIDS DREAM IN COLOR workshops, DARE TO DREAM PROJECT and The Movement that VONY is! Definitely shout out to everyone at the WBAI RISE UP RADIO crew and especially Keisha for inviting VONY to the show! Peace n lite Sue!


Meet the V.O.N.Y speaks PANELISTS!

I can't wait for all of these artists, educators and progressive minds, to share in discussion the wonderful possibilities to allow our children to experiment with their own voices and show us what they are thinking and seeing. We can help aide the direction of their expression into a positive light by, if it's reflecting pain we can help them heal through it or if it's showing advancement we can praise it. Babies show u how to be, that's why raising children is a way of life. We learn about our selves through the eyes of a child. We need to pay more attention to what our kids are doing, because common folks don't know that, they are preparing for the future and the way they perceive the world now will dictate the aftermath of their actions. We need to raise active participants of communities, that way everyone has a use they can share to help keep society involved and resourceful for the common need for growth of progression. Everyone of these panelist's have been chosen because they are actively contributing to the youth and working with communities to raise awareness about the importance of youth developments and it's benefits for the future of mankind. Thanks again for stepping into the movement part of things..and taking part in the movement for youth empowerment!

Here is a list of the topics and panelist speaking at the 1st Annual Youth Media/Arts conference . Get to know them and their influence to communities, society and mankind as a whole.

"In An Ideal World: Brainstorming Educational Policies for the 21st Century"

Shomwa Shamapande: Communications Advisor, Writer, and Activist! Check him out below at links to articles and networks he is members of: He along with other school administrators, educators, parents and youth advocates will be speaking in the 1st Annual Voices of New York Speak Youth Media/Arts Conference panel discussions.

Stacey Shells: Principal, educator, youth advocate.
Stacey Shells is the Founding Principal of True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School, which is a part of Uncommon Schools. She is currently set to open her second school in the fall of 2010.

Kanene Holder: Educator, Award winning actress, youth activist.
Kanene is a New York Life Graduate Fellow for the Colin Powel Center for Public Policy at City College researching the psycho-social impacts of living in urban areas and currently teaches 5th grade social studies at Harlem Children’s Zone. Her revolutionary social justice/multimedia curriculum is responsible for her students being published in the Creative Communities poetry anthology and their protest posters being exhibited at NYU, Steinhart.

Lee Turley: Special needs advocate
Lee Turley a Berklee College of Music graduate ran the only co-ed special olympics gymnastics program in metro Boston from 2003-2008. During this time he also became a consultant for the City of Cambridge public school system as a special needs advisor for their personal aides. Helped train one of his special needs athletes to become an official competing team member for the CRLS gymnastics team a first in the school's history along with training her to become a gymnastics coach as her lifelong vocation post high school implemented through the State of Massachusetts.

Kareem Hertzog: F1 in Schools Consultant USA.

And last but not least is Laurie, she epitomizes the type of woman you become when you open your heart and embrace your new found role and fulfill the highest position society has and that is motherhood. Raising a son under the spectrum of Autism, Laurie has given her life to educate people on the epidemic and shares her story to of struggles with the Education/Medical system and the positive advancements made with her son Jack's learning disability.

Laurie Markiewicz: Parent, Youth advocate/Special needs educator; Ladies Love NYC Collective.

Deeply rooted in the Tri-State Area, Laurie Markiewicz (Miss Laurie/LadiesLoveNyc) has been involved in the underground hardcore/hip-hop/skate circuits for more than half of her life. Laurie packs an impressive list of credentials with extensive and nuanced work in youth development, ranging from her experience with newborns, to youth in the juvenile detention centers in New York. Laurie’s main vision and driving passion is towards bringing women to the forefront of media through the performing and visual arts, as well as fundraising for different community initiatives. Her two most recently produced and very successful events, Ladies Love Dilla & Ladies Love The Breaks, were a fundraisers for Lupus & Autism Awareness.

Other Panel themes covered.
"Rise of Teaching Artists" (Modern Day Mentors)

Stacey Alicia: Adapting CHAMP+ for South Africa: Supporting HIV+ Youth and Families,Project Director, HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University.

Suzen Baraka: Spoken Word Artist and youth activist. An award-winning performer, Suzen has competed nationally in both speech forensics and in spoken word with the Newark, New Jersey Slam Team in Austin, Texas (2006), affirming her exceptional skill as an artist.

Nikki Ntu: Artist Mcee, Voices of New York's Youth Advocate and Mentor. Check out the recent release of her her Debut Album "History of Dreams". Her undeniable style fervor
infused with political and a spiritual self -expression heard from very few artists today.

Kim Alderman: Parent and Teaching Artist. Specializes in teaching youth sculptural ceramics, mixed media painting and the art of sand-painting [Rangoli] from India.

RIP: Founder of Writer Block, a Cultural Arts movement based in New york City. Spoken Word artist, Community Organizer and Activist.

The "Media and Identity" Panelists are Youth Media Activists addressing how media can shape the identities and culture of our children.

Melo X: Music Producer, Artist, Youth Advocate

Allyson Cole: Founder of Start-up Non-profit, Create a Path, for adolescent girls on probation
that will enable them to fulfill their self-declared artistic, vocational, and educational goals.

Tiffany Richards: Film Director, Youth Media Activist.

Lisa Russell: Filmmaker and Activist is an Emmy® Award-winning filmmaker whose background in humanitarian and international development work has inspired her to produce films about the health and well-being of our global society.