Roots & Ancestry

Roots & Ancestry

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online or in-person, private bookings only

"You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors."
— Toba Beta

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Workshop Overview

This dialogue-rich experience will allow you to explore your own and others' histories, journeys, upbringings and context through the mediums of conversation, literature and art. We'll create prose and poetry pieces, drawings, collages and stories to share with one another, and perhaps take away from the workshop to continue the conversation with our friends, colleagues and families.


In times past we lived in smaller, more intimate communities. We came to know one another through knowing the family. We spent our lives around people we had grown up with, and alongside the sons, daughters, cousins and friends of those people. There were fewer secrets, greater openness, less suspicion and more trust. There was context.

Today people just land in our lives out of nowhere. They have no context, no background, no history. All we know is what we see, so we are forced to make snap judgments based on skin tone, religious dress, accent and our own stereotypes and generalisations. In the first instance it's our only way of discerning, of figuring out who to trust. And then, rather than talking with someone, or even prior to meeting them we look them up on social media, looking for clues.

Of course, because we make judgements based on appearance and social media profile we know that others do the same, so we all spend a lot of our time making our outsides look presentable and creating online personas to attract other people. Yet in all our online profiles rarely is ancestry mentioned. Context is still lacking. Apart from perhaps mentioning a city of birth there is no I come from section, nowhere to tell our story of childhood, of parents, siblings, grandparents, of flight, immigration, of the things lost and the hurt suffered, of great achievements and strange adventures.

This workshop offers a space for all of that, a space to talk about our backgrounds, to share our family stories, to share intimacy, to create moments of awe and wonder as we look upon one another with new light. Going forward it will remind us to start with wonder rather than judgment when we meet new people.


You may like to have photographs or other artefacts on hand to help you to tell your story. Mostly though, just spend some time thinking about your history, and your parents' history, and their parents, going back as far as you like. If your history is vague or lost, embrace that too, and consider non-ancestral influences.

Who should attend?

This workshop is open to anyone and everyone. No special skills are needed, just a willingness to be open and vulnerable, and a desire to learn about yourself and listen to the stories of others. Due to the intimate and personal nature of the work, this workshop is strictly limited to six participants.


Facilitator: Tobias Mayer

I have been facilitating groups for almost thirty years, and have spent over fourteen years consulting in the corporate world. With two marriages, one divorce, four children, multiple encounters with drug addicts and alcoholics, and many years working in the probation, youth work and refugee support fields I feel well seasoned to offer workshops on the human condition. Today I study Theology and Human Givens psychotherapy, adding to my understanding of individuals, groups and relationships.

Participant Reflections

"Still glowing! Wonderful experience. Thank you Tobias and fellow explorers."

"I had the pleasure of attending this workshop in July 2021. It is amazing how simple interactions between previously unknown persons convey so much about ourselves and others, since a space is opened to be explored and filled with context. It also highlighted clearly the fundamental theme—that everyone has a context, a history, a multitude, specific to oneself, and any glimpse of it we are afforded the priviledge to get will enrich human experience. Thank you to Tobias and the participants."

Express Interest

Workshop Availability

This is offered as an online or in-person/on-site workshop, spanning one full day. It is currently available through private booking only. Click the blue button to express interest, and we can start a conversation to see if this workshop will be useful to your organisation.


This workshop is offered free to faith-based community non-profits in the UK, otherwise pricing is as follows:
  • UK: £5,000 + VAT
  • Rest of Europe: £7,500
  • Everywhere Else: £10,000
  • Workshop limited to 16 people

    Contact Information


    Image: Portrait of the children of Zvi Friedlander, Šiauliai, 1913. Photograph by M. Rubinstein. (RG 126 Family History and Genealogy)
    Page created: 01/01/2020 00:00:00
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