What if Albuquerque could fund its own change?
What if the change itself created the funds?
These two questions have been on my mind since 2019. As a chronic entrepreneur, I can’t help but think of innovation in all I do. I refuse to accept “the way the world works” as the only way it can work. I am a strategist, a futurist, and an activist who uses data science and systems thinking to innovate impact and change. This means discovering what needs changed (root causes), setting clear and specific goals for change (defining our desired future), and then figuring out how to fund, accelerate, and sustain efficient change (create impact).
As a candidate, applying this work and mindset means innovating how Albuquerque funds its own change. I am proposing an entirely new revenue stream to make an inclusive city of the future possible – one that does not rely on City taxes, or even State or Federal government programs and funds. Let me explain how, for once, our position as a city in need of change can become self-sufficient and scale big, long-term solutions to our biggest problems. As you may have guessed by now, it starts with data and how we use it.
I’ve listened, studied, spoken, and proposed new models and methods of measuring real change. I firmly believe every program and policy with any significant claim to impact a serious issue needs a data model attached to it. This holds us accountable for seeing Return on Investment and forces us to face reality and change strategy when the numbers are not moving in a positive direction. It also creates, when the numbers show positive change, the proof we need to create impact credits.
There is a rapidly-growing market for these impact credits. I’ve worked for years in ESG or Environmental, Social, and Governance, where I use data to quantify and verify positive impact. In this space, those who create positive impact are rewarded with credits that match their impact. Others buy those credits to offset their own negative impacts. Impact investors fund and also buy credits to satisfy their missions and stated impact goals. But what does this mean for the City of Albuquerque?
Imagine a future where we create and sell our own credits. It’s possible within a year with the right, light investment and focus on data and a data refinery capable of quantifying and reporting our positive change.
Think of carbon credits (an environmental credit), used to represent someone’s verified reduction in CO2. Carbon credits are sold for $40/ton, and some are trading at $100-300/ton. Positive social impacts, like a verified reduction in unhoused people within a city, can also become credits. Some of these credits are selling for $6-10 per unit of improvement. Albuquerque can generate and sell its own environmental and social impact credits. At the scale of a city this size, we’re talking new revenue in the tens of millions of dollars, with the potential to reach $100 million or more with a concerted effort to affect change and prove results.
This is not a call to run our city like a business. That approach often follows the same profit-at-all-costs motive that has created the systemic poverty, worker exploitation, and inequality we need to make right.
This is a call to innovation, to take direct responsibility for real change in Albuquerque. This is a new path to long-term, permanent solutions to root causes that require continuous and sustained investment. I want us to stop waiting on a polarized and dysfunctional federal government struggling with government shutdowns. I want Albuquerque to be able to take care of Albuquerque as a community of entrepreneurs who take action – and refuse to stand idle while our people and our city suffers.
In six months of going door-to-door and person-to-person, I have heard consensus on our critical needs. We all agree on the need to address crises like increased homelessness, the creeping specter of poverty and addiction, and the required transition to clean energy and a sustainable water supply. These are Environmental and Social issues with corresponding credits – waiting on the data and the data refinery to generate them. We do, over the next year, have federal and state funds coming in for physical and “human” infrastructure. It’s not clear if or when these funds will keep showing up. Let’s use this wave, this opportunity, to invest in our own means of change: a data refinery, impact credits, and real transformation from the sustained change they enable.