An Open Letter To Oprah Winfrey Offering Advice On Her Possible Decision To Trade Television For Organic Farming On Maui

Dear Ms. Winfrey,

Howzit? As Maui’s most famous snowbird, you can probably imagine the buzz around Maui–and Hawaii–that’s been created by, of all things, a simple business filing in the Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs. But hey, what do you expect when your people (that would be Bob Greene Enterprises, which is run by your personal trainer) suddenly file a new business registry for “Oprah’s Farm, LLC” in Hawaii? We know you have substantial holdings on Maui, so can you really blame us for dropping everything and speculating that you, Oprah Winfrey, Goddess of All Things Media, might just chuck everything for the farmer’s life?

Apparently, you even joked about it a few months ago.

“In January, several websites quoted a story in the National Enquirer saying that said [sic] Winfrey had joked that she’d move to the Valley Isle to run an organic farm if her new cable channel didn’t work out,” the Pacific Business News reported on April 4. While PBN couldn’t confirm if you’re actually moving here full time, the news organization did add that “If there’s one thing that’s known about Oprah, it would be that almost anything she touches turns into gold.”

The key word in that last sentence is, as you well know, “almost.” As you know, Bloomberg reported last month that your Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) “probably lost $107 million on a cash-flow basis in 2011” and was poised to lose “$142.9 million in 2012.” That’s not good, even for someone who lives in a 42-acre estate in Montecito, California and owns at least six other homes around world.

So if you do decide to give up on the Mainland rat race and move to Maui permanently to grow greens and onions and strawberries without the harmful pesticides we’ve all come to hate, here are a few handy tips and suggestions the MauiTime staff threw together to help make your move a bit more pleasant. We know you already own considerable property Upcountry and in Hana, but there’s a huge difference between part-time and full-time residents. Huge!

It doesn’t happen very often, but sooner or later you will get caught in a Pali traffic jam. If (given the recent spate of bad accidents plaguing the island, it’s more likely when) there’s a fatality on the Pali, the Maui Police Department will shut the whole thing down. If you get caught in the snarl, which could last for six or more hours, the best thing to do is DON’T PANIC. In fact, why not turn the misfortune of others into an opportunity for you: keep a stash of a few dozen issues of your latest O Magazine in the trunk and just hand them out to those fellow residents and tourists stranded around you. Nothing passes the time better than reading a good magazine.

Yeah. Here’s the thing on your road: yes, it’s your road. You built it, you own it. Private property is king, yada yada. Just please don’t lord it over us residents who don’t own our own roads and can’t use yours (you also might want to think–and this is only a suggestion–about contributing even a tiny sum of your billions and billions of dollars to a few local charities and non-profit organizations around the island. Just a thought). Oh, and if you’re on your road and you see joggers or just people out hiking across the Haleakala Ranch, just smile and wave. They’re not doing you or the ranch any harm, and only want to experience a taste of the grandeur that is unspoiled, undeveloped Maui.

I know organic farming is like, back-breaking work that requires waking up insanely early, but if you happen to get the bug to go back into television, you might want to give Jay April a call. He’s the president and CEO of Akaku, Maui’s public access cable channel. They have pretty limited resources over there (it’s public access, after all) but still, they do good work and put on some very interesting, very informative community programming. And best of all, it’s free! Anyway, I don’t seem to have April’s extension handy, but if you call the station’s main number (808-871-5554), I’m sure somebody there will patch you through.

Especially if you’re going to be an organic farmer, you’ll have to go to the Maui Fair. Everyone else does, and so should you. Now there are many schools of thought on where exactly lies the best place to park when going to the fair, but me, I like to just bite the bullet and pay $5 to park right at Baldwin High. Sure, it costs a few bucks, and there’s usually free parking within a mile’s walk, but consider it an easy way to give back to the kids at Baldwin, who, given the state of public education in this state, can use the money.

Unlike California, a couple years ago Maui County instituted a full-fledged ban on plastic grocery bags. Now grocery stores still stock plenty of paper bags, but all the most environmentally sensitive residents just bring heaps of reusable bags with them when they go shopping. So if you happen to have some old tote bags lying around, bring ‘em, because you’ll need ‘em.

Now I know you probably will want to keep your California drivers license because there are still a couple years to go before you have to go through the hassle of standing in line at the DMV, and that’s cool. But you will want to get a Hawaii state ID, and fast. The reason? Two words: Kamaaina discount. You may have more money than God, but I seriously doubt anyone stayed rich by paying full price on Maui for a filet mignon. You should make an appointment, as it can get busy. In fact, things were so jammed when I went to get my ID that Deidre Tegarden, the Governor’s Representative on Maui, actually processed my application. Anyway, call (808) 243-5798 to set up an appointment. It’s totally worth it.

Now I’m just going to assume that I don’t even have to tell you about the magical wonders found at Komoda’s Bakery in Makawao, but you may not know that the best chili chicken on Maui is found at Pukalani Superette and the best mac salad ever is found at the Takamiya Market dairy case over in Happy Valley. You’re welcome.

No boddah.

9. Cane Burning
Oh, and if you happen to wake up in the morning and see what looks like a gray-brown mushroom cloud rising from the valley floor in Central Maui, don’t worry too much. No, we haven’t just been nuked–it’s merely what locals call “Maui snow,” the ash cloud created when Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar burns sugar cane in the field–much the way they did it 140 years ago. It shouldn’t bother you too much in Hana, but it might mess with the view from your Upcountry abode. Yes, it’s dirty and filthy and yet another reason for the world to stop eating so much sugar, but the best thing I can tell is just to get used to it.

Lastly, I saw an article on saying that every woman needed just six shoes, but couldn’t help but notice that none of those six shoes was a pair of slippers. This might be a problem, because on Maui, people wear slippers (what you Californians call “flip flops”) pretty much all the time (or just go barefoot, if they can). If you don’t have a good pair of slippers, the best thing I can suggest is heading to Long’s. They have a really good selection. But if you don’t find anything you like there, try K-Mart.