Co-Designing The Current

Who’s in the room and where we’re headed

Oona Eager
4 min readAug 11, 2022


image credit: USGS ‘marsh in Afganistan’

Highlights (TL;DR)

  • Since we published our vision paper, our collective has grown to 40 members with 100+ in our wider field of support. We are a collective made up of lived and professional experience.
  • While Phase 0 of The Current was focused on broad sensing and research, Phase 1 will be dedicated to prototyping. This phase begins in August and will see us through to spring of 2023.
  • With Free(d) Money as our North Star, we have selected our focus point for Phase 1: How might we help those with an abundance of “disposable” income begin to “free” their money toward non-directed giving?

When we introduced The Current a few months ago, we had no idea how many hearts and minds would be stirred by our provocation of Free(d) Money. From community leaders to feminist scholars to philanthropists to the Islamic finance community to money therapists, the response was overwhelming and resounding: we know money isn’t flowing with enough trust or ease…how might we free it?

Now, as summer’s heat descends on the Northern Hemisphere and we are called to the sweet relief provided by ocean dips, paddling pools and swimming holes, The Current’s own water level is rising as almost 40 of us are gathering to co-design its future.

Who are “we”?
We are a group of folks from varying backgrounds and perspectives, based mainly in North America and Europe, leading grassroots community movements and initiatives, radical participatory experiments with money, large networks, and everything in between. We are emboldened by our array of lived and professional experience. We are: Ahmad Elnashar, Amira Anne Glickman, Caroline Woolard, Catherine Woodiwiss, Corrina Grace, Danielle Cadhit, Deepa Patel, Elisandra Diaz, Eric Zimmerman, Erin Washington, Fae Rinaldo-Langridge, Francesca Pick, Guazabara Rivera, Isabela Granic, Jennifer Brandel, Jennifer Mercado Cohen, Jonathan Knegtel, Kadallah Burrowes, Kāvya Raman, Mark Beam, Michele Ernsting, Oona Eager, Namibia Donadio Mejia, Penelope Douglas, Peter Koenig, Richard Kelly, Rigo Lara Guzmán, Riley Wong, Roxann Stafford, Sarah Greenfield Clark, Sharon Chang, Shaun Neblett, Shea Waldron, Stephen Reid, Vera Hoffman, Vibhor Mathur, Wonhee Cy

Starting Points
With Free(d) Money as its North Star, The Current now means many things to many of us. All at once it is becoming its own orientation to value and money, a neo-philanthropic fund, and a way of being together in relationship to these themes. We know that if the world was truly just, philanthropy as a field simply wouldn’t exist at all. To support this shift to a post-philanthropic world, our process must be a fractal of what we want to create. So, with our shared agreements guiding us, we have begun iterating our way forward.

We see The Current as one of many necessary, radical alternatives to philanthropy’s status-quo—an eventual proof of concept that investing efforts can and should be rooted in trust, ease and love. Over the next several years, we hope The Current’s orientation and open-source blueprint will inform and be informed by a variety of analogous initiatives within various organizations and networks.

Where Next?
While Phase 0 of The Current was focused on broad sensing and analysis, Phase 1 will be dedicated to prototyping toward a pilot. This phase begins in August 2022 and sees us through to spring 2023. Our co-design question for Phase 1 is:

How might we help those with an abundance of “disposable” income begin to “free” their money toward non-directed giving?

Throughout the fall of 2022, our prototyping will focus on a deep exploration of this question with progressively-minded HNWIs, while also co-designing how free money might be best allocated and distributed by and to community leaders of place-based initiatives across the U.S. We’ll also be exploring partnerships with family offices and philanthropic institutions who are committed to evolving this field, as well as technological services that are aligned with our values and objectives.

Getting involved
We’re continuing to grow our co-design collective, now focusing solely on folks with lived experience as either funders or as community leaders based in the U.S. If you are a decision-maker at a family office and you are interested in our work, please get in touch; we would like to interview wealth holders as part of our prototyping process.

Interested in The Current and want to stay in the loop? Contact us to receive bi-monthly updates.

Important Links
The following are design artifacts created through our collaborative process:

  1. Our Design Brief for Phase 1
  2. Synthesis from Phase 0 (2021) of our “Sensing” research
  3. Our V1 Shared Agreements as a Co-Design collective

This publication is the result of a collaborative effort. Design artifacts were created by Kāvya Raman and Catherine Woodiwiss.

Note: The Current has been graciously seed-funded by private foundation TTSL, operationally supported by Yoxi and is a Shared Future as designated by the Guild of Future Architects.