Gen Why Media creates and leads civic engagement projects to inspire the next generation of political leaders.
Mission and Purpose
Gen Why Media is a non-profit organization specializing in producing media, events, and participatory art aimed at engaging the public in social and political issues. Gen Why Media’s mission is to re-invigorate political participation through cultural production and works across generations in collaboration with non-profit organizations, governments, universities, businesses, and community groups.
Origins and Development
Gen Why Media was formed by Tara Mahoney and Fiona Rayher while attending Vancouver-based, non-profit film school, In Focus Film School. The two women made a short documentary titled Generation Why that explored the potential of Generation Y (people born in the 1980s and early 1990s) to change culture and social structures for the better. The film was well received and the screenings were well attended, which eventually grew into a non-profit specializing in civic engagement.
Organizational Structure and Funding
Gen Why Media is run by the two founders, Tara Mahoney and Fiona Rayher, who make the decisions for the organization. Occasionally it hires workers on contract to suport larger collaborative projects.
It is funded by a combination of grants and fee-for-service contracts.
Specializations, Methods and Tools Used
Gen Why employs several methods and tools to provide a wide range of opportunities and forms of public engagement:
- Event production and cross-generational dialogues;
- Consultation on engagement strategy, audience research and communication design;
- Media Production (documentary film, short videos and interactive web production);
- Social Innovation Labs; Participatory public art; Public Policy Collage; Photovoice; Micro-utopias
Major Projects and Events
- Creative Publics Lab - An emergent project that reimagines the university as a place to develop new political practices. Housed at the SFU School of Communications, the lab brings together post-secondary students with local practitioners to work on experimental art, design, and media projects aimed at developing new political practices that engage local communities in issues of public concern.
- Fractured Land - A feature length film and national engagement project that tells the story of a young First Nations law student and emerging leader from northeast BC, the epicenter of some of the world’s largest fracking operations; he tries to reconcile the fractures within himself, his community and the world around him, blending modern tools of the law with ancient wisdom.
- Bring Your Boomers - An inter-generational dialogue series that uses on-stage ‘living room style’ conversations and cultural performance to create an informal but important space for the public to re-evaluate their opinions, assumptions, values, and beliefs while connecting with members of their community.
- Not-a-Party Election Party (series): An election-focused event series that celebrates the community organizing that happens outside the political party system.
- Reimagine CBC: National online-to-offline campaign that galvanized thousands in a massive brainstorm on the future of Canadian public media. The project was a collaboration between Gen Why Media, Openmedia.ca and Leadnow.ca.
- Re-Think Housing: An event and video launched the City of Vancouver’s re:THINK HOUSING initiative which generated a creative narrative around possibilities for Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis.
- REGENERATE - A public art project that used reused household and industrial materials to create a large-scale, text-based art project and living greenwall.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!
Mahoney, T. (2017). CREATIVE PUBLICS: Participatory Cultural Production and the 2015 Canadian FederalElection. Public Journal. Issue 55: DEMOS.
Creative Publics Final Report: http://genwhymedia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Creative-Publics_Final-Report_for-web.pdf
 SFU. (2016). https://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2016/sfu-tutorial-innovation-teaches-creative-civic-engagement--spark.html
 Wong, J. (2011, Feb 22). Vancouver’s Gen Why Media Project aims to redefine Millennial generation. The Georgia Straight. http://www.straight.com/article-376114/vancouver/vancouvers-gen-why-media-project-aims-redefine-millennial-generation