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We will develop our capacities, grounded in care for self, others, places and the planet. We will discover how we can nourish what is natural to each of us. By connecting deeply to key societal and global issues, we will find direction and options to adapt our lives in alignment with the life conditions.

♡ Thank you for being here. My name is Ellen van Dongen. My life is about learning to consciously give form to life as a human being, a member of the human hive and a global citizen. I work with Humanity’s Code of Care as a guiding principle to help people see the whole and develop a sense of interconnectedness. I invite people to come closer to who they are, offer them experiences which open up new areas of awareness and nurture their capacities for self-search, self-development and personal creation. The experiential knowledge at the basis of the lifemaps and of the lifemaps workshops I am offering comes from a long career in business and in government, powered by a drive for self-expression and societal innovation. A burnout experience and an awareness raising process drastically changed the situation, leading to an inner journey. Questions arose: how do I view the world now? Where is my place in it? How can I remain positive when the life conditions on earth are deteriorating? What will I do? Lifemap scenarios were developed to help chart all this, to reassess my principles and find direction. While guiding groups of four in workshops, my own process of enquiry and development continues. That, I know for sure.

An integral approach in which lifemaps workshops complement the lifemaps as such
Ellen van Dongen

The word ‘integral’ in means: whole, complete, total, full, integer. It refers to my intention to offer a holistic approach, not only in the lifemap scenarios, posters and sticker sets, but also in lifemaps (mini) projects. I prefer to work with small groups of people, in workshops that go deep and wide. In a workshop participants have their process in their own hands. They are central, the lifemap materials are their instrument. A workshop programme has two distinctive features. In the individual mapping round a clear sense of I arises. The clarity this provides promotes the exchange in the group and creates a setting in which the sense of We can be fully present. Second feature is a combination between elaborate storytelling and deep listening, without discussion. The atmosphere which results from this leads to a round of dialogue or brainstorm that reaches further than people thought possible.

The wonders of life

I could never have imagined it was possible and yet life gave it to me: the opening of my heart and my ability to embody emotions. It was a difficult, slow process. Life is different now, with more discomfort and unexpected sensations from within, but it also feels more natural. Being calm and grounded has become a practice instead of a state. Since my awareness expansion, as I tend to call my burnout nowadays, I’m ‘awake’, which means openness and transparency. Luckily, I had already learned that wrinkles are part of life, when you get older, and that misses are to learn or improve. I feel inspired and deeply grateful for the next generation. My two sons and daughters in law make me happy and proud. Together we share memories of Willem Aaij and we create new memories every day with our youngest generation of family members.

Career in keywords

To me work has always been my life’s work. Key areas of expertise: strategy, helicopter view, analysis & synthesis, context awareness, structuring, information technology, systemic advising and change. Biologist. Personal development, see the ebook Life in 3 questions. New business development in the corporate industry, for government, to win and deliver on large-scale contracts with long-term partnerships. Core roles: seeding the field, weaving a web of connections, creating conditions for success and giving direction, developing a joint vision, inviting all stakeholders to commit the best of themselves and to choose collaboration over competition. Always set an overarching higher goal, to achieve results with value for the stakeholders and the whole system. Co-author of a book about community and place-based business models by Jan Jonker, Professor em. Sustainable Entrepreneurship. I incorporate everything I’ve done and learned in my life into the lifemaps. And that naturally includes what I am experiencing now – my life and the lifemap developments are closely interwoven. Linkedin profile.


In this phase of life my mission is more to promote awareness raising than it is to take action. So how can I still make my contribution to care for the planet? One of the strengths of lifemaps is precisely the physical, the tactual, working with products on the basis of paper… I therefore designed private measures for myself. I cleared out my excess clutter, took part in a communal living experiment, became a vegetarian, got rid of the car and bought solar panels. More sustainability measures are taken recently, such as installing insulated glass windows at home (the workplace). Last year my focus has been to create more diversity in my garden and develop semi-wild areas. This year’s focus is to develop more knowledge about non-food (consumer) products. I use organic produce, avoid products with environmental impact, travel less, buy less stuff and try to do more with what I already have. Together with others I pick up litter in the neighbourhood. For Lifemaps.NL I aim to purchase materials and services from companies with clear sustainability objectives. I am keeping lifemaps in the paper form. It works well. Happily people tend to keep their completed poster instead of throwing it in the recycle bin for used paper.


The website provides information about lifemaps and describes the Integral Life Mapping approach. The catalogue on the website offers an overview of the lifemap building blocks and available scenarios. Prices, tariffs and conditions can vary, depending on the aim and nature of the group project. Recognition for Lifemaps.NL: Meshworker of the year 2020, Developing peace as a person, a citizen for Peace Week 2022. Lifemaps.NL is a not-for-profit venture, registered in The Netherlands. Chamber of Commerce number is 30213990.

Building on earlier engagements and projects

For my former employer, UWV Data Services (Social Services), I designed and hosted a lifemap process about corporate values and vision building for teams. Projects in the years after that – always responding to an innovative initiative – were delivered: as a committed participant and workshop host in the Veerhuis, as an ambassador for an inclusive and flexible employment market in Werken in Netwerken, as a co-creator of the BOOST013 lifemap workshop for Tilburg Municipality, as an active member of the IHBV group for highly gifted entrepreneurs, and as a partner of Inspiration at Work. Thanks to the experiences and stimulating collaborations in these past projects, it became clear, that lifemaps could be of real value and that it would be worth the effort to develop more lifemap scenarios in accordance with the big vision.

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