Meet Ellen van Dongen, Integral City Meshworker 2020.

Ellen van Dongen is the Founder and producer of Lifemaps.NL. Her passion and the purpose of Lifemaps.NL is to nourish the self-learning and creational powers in people.

As a biologist Ellen has brought to each one of her Lifemaps designs, her astute living systems approach, informed from her long career in systemic business development and strategic consulting. Her work has always been value based and purpose oriented.

As a Client Executive at IBM Ellen developed large scale new business in long-term partnerships. As a Strategic Advisor in Social Security in The Netherlands she played a role as change manager, using a systemic approach, involving all stakeholders.

Ellen’s’ award of Meshworker of the Year 2020 recognizes her Lifemaps™ initiative and endeavour in the Caravan of Unity (CU).  CU took place in September 2020.

In partnership with Integral City, Lifemaps TM contributed to the CU event which was hosted by Co-Creating Europe (CCE). CCE offered the first of a series of Lifemaps™ aiming to wake up the Master Code of Care and energize the Caravan of Unity.

Lifemaps was the ‘avenue’ chosen to experience the rich meshworking potential of Integral City by gamifying the process of listening to the 4 Voices and the 12 intelligences for each of our cities. In this context, for the CCE CU, the lifemap scenarios were designed to Invite the cities and their participants to bring to the table the 4 voices of the city.

Lifemaps.NL helped participants to visualize what is going on around key themes in the world, such as the pandemic lockdown and Climate Crisis. They provided a realistic overview, showing connections, priorities, and indicators for action. The Lifemaps.NL workshops occurred in 4 different cities in Europe:

  • Findhorn, Scotland, UK, on Zoom (facilitated by Marilyn Hamilton)
  • Tampere, Finland, on Zoom (facilitated by Taina Ketola)
  • Klaipeda, Lithuania, on Zoom (facilitated by Rasa Kvaukaite)
  • Lisbon, Portugal (facilitated by Patrizzia Cappelletti Rocha)

Integrating Lifemaps™ and the Integral City Master Code of Care was genuinely organic and natural as consequence of Ellen’s process of creation and maturation of the games.

On her creation journey Ellen helped city facilitators to connect the dots for the participants.  She showed how Lifemaps™ can be instruments that support the discovery of the hidden and forgotten connections between humankind and nature. She created awareness of what this means, for the individual, community, business, civil society and government. By making all this explicit through the game, new pathways leading to a more natural world were opened up. We learned humans not only take care of self and others, but also of place and planet, the Master Code of Care for Integral Cities.

Ellen designed Lifemaps™ as a combination of a table poster and several sticker sets. It can carry a multi-layered process: intuitive mapping of reality, doing research based on the map, choosing priorities and creating a compass for the future. There are ready-to-use lifemaps for personal transformation, and pre-structured scenarios to visualize your world view, reflect about world citizenship and imagine your place in a natural world.

Ellen develops new scenarios for individual perspective. However, Lifemaps™ scenarios for the collective perspective are developed in co-creation with a core question. In these cases, sticker sets are tailor-made, based on the input of the collective and reflect the real situation, in context.

While Ellen was developing Lifemaps™ scenarios, sticker and symbol sets, she was also a member of the Integral City Constellation team.

In addition, Ellen Is co-author of Urban Hub Volume 20, part of a series of graphical books, produced by Paul Van Schaik, Integral Mentors. and Integral City. This volume, Accelerating City Change in a VUCA World, had a special focus on Climate Change and Ellen contributed a Lifemaps™ for Integral City.

Ellen is a proud mother, nature lover and blessed to share her home with the kindest cat in the world. She lives near Utrecht, Netherlands.

For Ellen’s initiatives in responding to the pandemic and contributing to the Caravan of Unity, Europe we are proud to award Ellen van Dongen Meshworker of Year, 2020.


For more Ellen’s Lifemaps connect with this website: Lifemaps.NL.


Definition of Meshworker

A Meshworker of the Year demonstrates the meshworking intelligence as defined on the websiteMeshworking intelligence creates a “meshwork” by weaving together the best of two operating systems — one that self-organizes, and one that replicates hierarchical structures. The resulting meshwork creates and aligns complex responsive structures and systems that flex and flow.

Candidates for the Meshworkers of the Year Award invest dollars, time, effort and expertise at a level of complexity that serves a whole city or cities. Here are our previous winners:

2019: Anne-Marie Voorhoeve

2018: Diana Claire Douglas

2017: Hub Co-Evolucio, Reus, Catalonia, Spain

2016: Morel Fourman, Gaiasoft,Africa

 2015: Imagine Durant, USA

2014: Team ARGO, Russia

2013: Populus, Canada