Changing ideas, not politicians, is the key to improving Hawaii

As a former elementary school music teacher in Lahaina, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii Vice President Joe Kent has an eye for creativity.

During an appearance earlier this month on “The Aloha Hour with Johny and Steezy,” he talked with hosts Jonathan Rotmensch and Kris Ancheta about the importance of tapping into that creativity in the policy realm — in both messaging and policy recommendations.

For example, Kent said, “It takes a lot of creativity to engage with policy and think of, like, ‘How do you solve the permitting department [backlog]?’”

He noted that Grassroot doesn’t focus on who is in political office, because “we can do more to change society by talking about ideas.”

Kent asked: “How does the world change? It’s not from politicians. It’s from movements, actually. And if you can get a movement so big that it scares politicians, then that’s when politicians will act.”

But reaching people with those ideas takes creativity too.

“There’s a hunger to understand” issues such as Hawaii’s high cost of living, Kent said, “so we try to explain that in a way that’s frictionless, and that people can laugh at and share with their friends, and hopefully we can … create an informed electorate in a fun way.”

Indeed, Rotmensch said he and Ancheta became interested in bringing Kent onto the podcast because Grassroot’s content on Instagram “is just so powerful.”

Among other themes that emerged during the conversation:

>> Laws freeze our economy in time.

>> Regulations are easier to pass than repeal.

>> The government often gets in its own way.

>> Private property rights are the basis for a strong economy.

“The Aloha Hour With Johny and Steezy” is billed as “a unique, uncensored and raw platform focusing on global topics discussed with a wide variety of interesting and exciting local heroes. To hear the Jan. 2 episode featuring Kent, please click on the video below.

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