July 24, 2016
Award winning non-profit, TMI Project, to host true storytelling workshop at Omega Institute, August 26-28
RHINEBECK – This summer, for the first time, TMI Project will offer a version of its transformative memoir and true-storytelling workshop at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.
During the weekend intensive workshop—August 26th-28th at Omega’s Rhinebeck campus—TMI Project Executive Director Eva Tenuto, and Editorial Director Sari Botton, will guide participants in crafting compelling monologues from their true personal experiences, including the “too much information” parts they usually leave out.
True storytelling has been gaining in popularity in recent years. It’s something we yearn for, which is innate for all humans. But in the digital age, when we tend to communicate via the abbreviated shorthand of texting and social media posts, it’s easy to lose touch with the instinct that had our ancestors spinning yarns around the campfire and passing down oral histories.
“We all have personal stories we want to share, but often feel we can’t or shouldn’t,” says Tenuto. “We tend to leave out the most embarrassing parts of the narrative, but we’ve discovered that sharing ‘too much information’ is often the key to true transformation.”
Over the course of three days, in a safe space, Tenuto and Botton will guide participants in exploring significant life experiences in a new light. Through carefully targeted writing prompts and exercises, participants will turn their pasts into testimonials of survival, dispelling old shame and inspiring others.
“When people tell the ‘TMI’ parts of their stories – the hardest parts – that’s when listeners most connect,” Botton explains. “They’re often harboring similar secrets, and it’s a relief to hear someone else admit to them. This sets off a chain reaction of identification and release from shame among storytellers and listeners. This is what sets our workshops and storytelling performances apart from others.”
Leading a workshop at Omega, through its Women’s Leadership Center, has been a long-standing goal for TMI Project. “Omega Women's Leadership Center has been a long time supporter of TMI Project's work,” Tenuto says. “We are thrilled to be a included in their interdisciplinary leadership curriculum this year.”
Carla Goldstein, co-founder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, is equally passionate about the collaboration. “We are committed to supporting women leaders who are using their leadership to transform the very nature of power,” Goldstein says. “Transforming power requires the kind of truth telling TMI Project is fostering through creativity and bold action.”
TMI Project has drawn praise from local mental health professionals. “Bringing TMI Project’s work to our organization has had wonderful results,” says Ellen Pendegar, chief executive officer of the Mental Health Association in Ulster County, Inc. “Participants, who have faced mental health challenges, have become eloquent storytellers of resiliency. Their stories eliminate the stigma and discrimination that can be felt within one’s self, one’s community and the mental health system. I am proud of what TMI Project and MHA have accomplished together.”
TMI Project is making an impact worldwide. In 2015, the organization collaborated with Gender at Work, an international women’s rights organization, in a workshop for fourteen gender activists from around the world. Following the workshop, the women and women told their stories at the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women.
Joanne Sandler, senior associate at Gender at Work, says TMI Project's workshop enabled “our partners from more than 10 countries to reveal and share very private stories that allowed the light of day to shine on the personal choices women leaders make and on the rewards of solidarity that are generated from courageously speaking out.”