possibilitylab@berkeley.edu

Abundance Accelerator

Together with a growing network of partners, the Possibility Lab’s Abundance Accelerator initiative is leveraging applied research and community-building to promote government policies that expand California’s capacity to sustainably supply essential resources, goods, and services to its people.

While California is home to great economic abundance, far too many in the state struggle with economic insecurity and a lack of access to basic goods and services. That’s why we’re using research, innovation, and collaboration to advance policy solutions that promote abundance and build an ecosystem to design, pilot, and scale a “fundamentals-first policy agenda.”
An Abundance Policy Framework​

How can we facilitate greater understanding of the potential for supply-side reforms to help build a stronger, sustainable, and equitable economy?

The Expanding the Supply of Essentials in California report establishes the foundational framework for how the multi-year Abundance Accelerator initiative will seek to answer that question by grounding our work in the broad goals of expanding the supply of, and downstream access to, 12 human essentials.

Building an Abundance Policy Research Consortium

We’re inviting researchers and experts from across California to develop an evidence-based, fundamentals-first policy agenda for California focusing on expanding access to 12 human essentials.

Members of the Abundance Policy Research Consortium will produce a research paper in their respective essential area with the opportunity to present their findings at Abundance Accelerator events and to collaborate with others working to build abundance in California.

The Consortium will operate within our team’s Abundance framework, which advocates for a shift towards supply-side thinking and policy making to address societal challenges. Each research report will analyze the existing policy domain’s context, identify root causes of scarcity, propose policy levers to improve supply, and discuss potential challenges for implementation. Join our webinar on Tuesday, April 16, at 12 p.m. PDT to learn how to join the Consortium!

NOW OPEN: REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

Housing and Energy Innovations

We are currently seeking to support innovations in community engagement that facilitate fast and equitable production of housing and  energy—two essentials our Accelerator will focus on in the coming years. This request for proposals invites community organizations, academics, and city, county, and state agencies to think creatively about these issues and pilot tangible, impactful, and innovative solutions. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Request for Proposals:

Innovations in Engaging Communities in Planning, Siting, and Permitting of Renewable Energy

Seeking to fund pilot projects that develop and test innovative methods for community engagement related to addressing the challenges and opportunities of green energy development, including host community benefits, tax revenues or other revenue structures, zoning, site design, project governance structures, and permit processes.

Request for Proposals:

Innovations in Engaging Communities in Local Policy Development and Planning for Increased Housing Production

Seeking to fund pilot projects that develop and test innovative methods for community engagement with the potential to meaningfully bring residents into the conversation in a way that is more conducive to the development of much-needed stable housing.

Mitigating Scarcity

Unlocking Abundance in California

Many of the intractable issues we face in California today, including those related to climate change, housing, and energy, are framed in terms of scarcity and how our resources, opportunities, and solutions are limited. Scarcity, however, is not necessarily inherent to these issues, but is often a product of how we allocate and distribute resources. By reimagining our systems and institutions, we can mitigate this scarcity and unlock abundance.

How do we build a future in which Californians no longer struggle to access fundamental resources like shelter, electricity, water, food, and care for children and elders?

In 2021, more than a quarter of Californians were living in or near poverty.

Government interventions over the past few decades designed to address these concerns have frequently relied upon demand-side programs, such as food stamps and housing vouchers. However, this approach does not address a crucial underlying issue: that there are simply not enough resources available in many communities that need them. 

California, one of the wealthiest places on earth, has a scarcity problem. In 2022, approximately half of the U.S.’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, due in large part to insufficient housing supply. As of 2020, nearly one million Californians were served by water systems out of compliance with state standards while climate change and drought increasingly threaten the state’s water supplies. Powering and heating homes is more costly in California than most other places in the U.S., costs that are particularly burdensome for low-income residents. And in a state that produces almost half of the country’s fruits and vegetables, 20 percent of Californians struggle with food insecurity. How are these basic human needs in such short supply in one of the richest places on earth?

The impacts of scarcity have led to calls from advocates and journalists for governments to reform policies with the specific aim of expanding supply. Proponents advocate for an “abundance agenda” that shifts the paradigm from zero-sum thinking toward abundance thinking, emphasizing the potential for innovation, collaboration, and technological progress to increase supply and thereby create abundance in society.  The Abundance Accelerator initiative was created out of this growing recognition that more attention must be paid to the supply side of the economy and our collective capacity to sustainably produce an abundance of what we all need to live healthy lives.

Abundance Accelerator

Our Approach

Establishing an Abundance Policy Agenda for California

We are bringing researchers, practitioners, and policymakers together to collaboratively develop an evidence-based policy agenda to use the power of government to remove bottlenecks and enhance the supply of human essentials in California.

Leveraging Data to Improve Government Capacity

We are partnering with government agencies and leading complex data projects to ensure that California has the data and information it needs to best support its residents across the state’s diverse needs.

Incorporating Community Input into Decision-Making

We are supporting and testing pilot projects aimed at improving California’s capacity to rapidly build out housing and clean energy infrastructure while incorporating community input.

Communicating and Building Abundance

We are building a network of partners—including thought leaders, community organizations, researchers, and policy makers—to increase our understanding of critical issues and to develop a community of stakeholders organized around developing supply-side policy reforms in California.

Developing an Abundance Agenda for California

There are a vast array of potential policy interventions, at many different levels and sites of government, that align with an abundance framework. Our approach to moving from conceptual framework to policy agenda is to start with fundamental human needs. We believe every Californian should be able to readily access 12 human essentials.

12 Human Essentials

WHY THESE ESSENTIALS?

In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, Kate Raworth builds a framework aiming to provide a holistic approach to economic development that ensures both social equity and environmental sustainability.

The purpose of the doughnut economics image is to visualize a safe and just space for humanity to thrive within the ecological boundaries of the planet. 

We see this as a useful way of visualizing how both “shortfall” and “overshoot” can threaten abundance, as well as the ways that tradeoffs are required to ensure we achieve and maintain a safe and just economy.

Within the Abundance Accelerator, we are grounding our thinking by setting the broad goal of expanding access to 12 human essentials. In doing so, we aim to move discussions from the conceptual to the practical, and to ensure that the abundance agenda we develop for California is oriented around lifting up those people and groups most marginalized in our current system.

 

More about Doughnut Economics:

The goal is to ensure that everyone has access to these basic needs and achieves a good standard of living without falling below the inner ring of the doughnut. The inner ring of the doughnut represents the social foundation, which includes essential human needs. The outer ring of the doughnut represents the planetary boundaries, which denote the ecological limits beyond which human activities risk causing irreversible damage to the environment. The goal is to stay within these boundaries to maintain the stability of Earth’s systems and safeguard the integrity of ecosystems.

from Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth

Operationalizing Supply-Side Policy Reforms

Often, when lawmakers craft policies they focus on the demand side of the economy—programs that direct more resources to the people that need them most.

Of course, sustaining and strengthening demand-side programs that redistribute resources is critically important. We propose, however, that building a future where far fewer Californians struggle to access the essentials will also require California to develop and implement reforms targeting the supply-side of the economy.

Focusing on the supply-side of the economy is historically associated with deregulatory and anti-tax movements spearheaded by conservatives. However, we recognize that reforming the policies that govern and shape production is a much more nuanced project, which is associated with both expansion and curtailment of government.

Attending the supply side is also necessary for achieving core progressive goals in California, including greater economic equality and environmental sustainability. Indeed, we hope to convince Californians from across the political spectrum of the value of an abundance policy agenda

The idea of the abundance agenda asks policymakers to consider: What is the root of the problem causing this scarcity, and what can the government and other actors do to mitigate that scarcity?

The framework of abundance we are seeking to operationalize through our work does not make assumptions about the origins of scarcities, nor does it prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing those scarcities.

For some problems, like climate change, the evidence suggests that more government intervention is needed to subsidize deployment of clean energy and make public investments in the technological innovation needed to wean our economy off of fossil fuels. When it comes to housing, however, the evidence suggests that governments—particularly at the local level—are hindering the development of critically needed housing supply through zoning and discretionary review processes. Therefore, with a lighter regulatory touch, governments could facilitate more essential housing construction.

As we conceive it, the abundance agenda also recognizes the vital role that the government plays in basically every essential sector of the economy.

Abundance Accelerator

Measuring Success

The success of the Abundance Accelerator will be measured in terms of outcomes for the people of California. By operationalizing a supply-side agenda through:

Rigorous Research

Our team of researchers includes subject matter experts across the 12 human essential policy areas in California. Moreover, our team has strong backgrounds in community-engaged research and data-driven policy analysis, allowing us to implement practical and impactful research exploring how to increase the supply of essential resources.

Innovative Pilot Projects

Our team is supporting and evaluating pilot projects testing novel approaches to soliciting and incorporating community input into planning decisions. We are leveraging pilots and research to produce policy recommendations for state and local government on better understanding the tradeoffs between community input and infrastructure buildout.

Collaborative Partnerships

Our team is building partnerships with subject matter experts, policymakers, government agencies, practitioners, and other stakeholders in order to advance an abundance agenda. Through data projects, ongoing collaborative efforts, and common values, these partnerships will help us build abundance in California.