Abundance Accelerator @ the Possibility Lab

Why don’t we have enough housing, teachers, clean energy, or healthy food?

At the Possibility Lab’s Abundance Accelerator, we’re investigating the causes of scarcity, and testing new supply-side solutions to create and deliver essential goods and services to all Californians. 

Beyond the scarcity model: increasing supply

Modern-day California is a state characterized by great economic abundance. As of 2021, its median annual household income of nearly $85,000 made it the 5th highest-income state in the U.S. If it were a country, California would be one of the world’s biggest economies. And yet, far too many Californians struggle with economic insecurity and a lack of access to basic goods and services: adequate housing, healthy food, and clean water. In 2021, more than a quarter of Californians were living in or near poverty. 

The Abundance Accelerator will build an ecosystem of interdisciplinary experts, practitioners, and community groups to develop, test, and scale a fundamentals-first policy agenda for the state of California. 

Supply-side policies focus on what government–alongside private industry and community organizations–can do to sustainably produce high-quality and affordable goods and services, so that more Americans can access them. By focusing on abundance, we aim to move beyond a zero-sum mindset of competition over limited resources, and instead work together to enlarge the pie for everyone.

Mapping the policy ecosystem: Identifying bottlenecks and solutions

How can we move the concept of Abundance from conception to action?

To begin, we have defined ten essential goods to which we believe every person should have affordable access:

  • Clean energy
  • Clean water 
  • Healthy food 
  • Adequate housing 
  • Transportation and mobility
  • Care for Children
  • Care for elders
  • Safety in communities 
  • Education 
  • Dignified work

In the coming years, we will partner with policy experts and practitioners to better understand the factors that contribute to scarcities in each of these 10 essentials, in order to outline the steps California can take to promote abundance in each domain. 

Throughout the initiative, we will conduct and publish data-driven analysis and original research. We will build upon our research to identify common bottlenecks or impediments that can be removed in order to encourage innovation and promote abundance, and to test promising interventions designed to address scarcities throughout California. 

Developing community-informed models for policy innovation

How can we build the infrastructure we so desperately need in California, without steamrolling communities or reinforcing existing inequities?

Recently, a national discussion about the benefits of supply-side policy making has drawn attention to the scarcities at the core of many social problems. Yet, it’s hard to talk about “abundance” when so many Californians live day-to-day without the security of basic needs. That’s why any meaningful supply-side agenda must be directly informed by the communities who are most affected by our current scarcity of fundamental goods. At the Abundance Accelerator, we will pilot new processes for engaging diverse communities in decision-making. We will collect comprehensive data to explore the challenges Californians face when it comes to accessing essential goods in different regions of the state, and to better understand the political feasibility of enacting an abundance agenda statewide.

pilot new processes for engaging diverse communities in decision-making

Building coalitions

We look forward to building a broad coalition of thought-leaders from varied backgrounds and perspectives, and building a community of practice that can come together to consider and enact long-term policy solutions. Our diverse collaborators and advisory board will allow us to challenge narrow ideological and political perspectives and design a comprehensive framework for thinking about abundance.

Focusing on policy

The Abundance Accelerator will focus on identifying and testing a set of policy recommendations to improve Californians’ access to essential goods. The Accelerator will also facilitate broad conversations about the potential for comprehensive supply-side efforts, beyond just narrow tech innovations or one-off funding infusions.

Leveraging data

Our research and collaborations will help us construct and map a core set of specific and measurable quantitative indicators, which will allow us to track scarcity and abundance across diverse policy areas. Eventually, we aim to scale these indicators to advance and evaluate an abundance agenda across California and beyond.

Measuring success

The success of the Abundance Accelerator will be measured by its outcomes for the people of California. By operationalizing a supply-side agenda through rigorous research, on-going partnerships, and innovative pilot projects that can be rigorously tested and appropriately scaled, we will move the idea of an Abundance Agenda from theory to action. Over the long-term, these efforts will focus on improving access across all 10 essential goods, throughout each region of the state, and ultimately across the nation.

In the News

Ezra Klein: A Liberalism That Builds
with Professor Amy E. Lerman

The Jefferson Memorial Lecture will be hosting New York Times journalist and podcast host Ezra Klein on October 5, 2023. Klein will be joined by Amy E. Lerman, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science and Director of the Possibility Lab at the University of California.

Abundance Accelerator @ the Possibility Lab | 2023