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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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2/23/2010 3:08:00 PM
Mago statue comes down (with video)
Video length 2 minutes
This was the view from Bill Gray Road Tuesday morning as workers for the Tao Fellowship/Mago Earth Park began the task of disassembling the controversial 50-foot Mago Mother Earth statue. VVN/Jon Pelletier
This was the view from Bill Gray Road Tuesday morning as workers for the Tao Fellowship/Mago Earth Park began the task of disassembling the controversial 50-foot Mago Mother Earth statue. VVN/Jon Pelletier

COTTONWOOD -- After months of protests on both sides of the cause, the controversial Mago Mother Earth Statue at began to be disassembled Tuesday morning and carried away.

The end of the lengthy debate over the 39-foot statue on a 10-foot tall pedestal ended in something of a muted way.

About 20 Save Mago protesters ended their obstruction of heavy equipment at the park with a morning vigil that was agreed upon by the Tao Fellowship before the 8:30 a.m. beginning of the disassembly.

Organizer Genia Sullivan said a meeting was held with the Tao Fellowship. "They told us they are going to take down Mago, no matter what we do. They want to comply with the City of Cottonwood requirements and could be fined up to $30,000 for each day of violation beyond the Feb. 24 deadline."

The protesters reportedly asked for several conditions in exchange for allowing the disassembly to begin.

"The Fellowship said they would allow us to have 30 minutes with Mago before the 8:30 a.m. start of the removal," said Sullivan.

The Tao Fellowship also agreed to a 7 p.m. Wednesday question-and-answer meeting with the protest group to determine how to continue the "spirit of Mago" after its removal.

The protest began in the drizzling rain Saturday morning and continued through Tuesday morning. A blog web site was launched at to follow details of the protest and post pictures and video.

Sullivan, the manager of a Dahn Yoga studio in Closter, N.J., organized the protest. Sullivan and others contributed to the construction of the Earth Park for which she said they had been waiting about three years.

Sullivan said that Tao Fellowship and Dahn Yoga employees share the same "vision," but are different companies. No Tao Fellowship employees were involved in the protest, she noted. About half of the protestors are employees of Dahn Yoga.

"I think that it was worthwhile, the protesters feel a lot better. A lot of people stopped by, giving us $5, or smiling and waving at us, wishing good luck. They have been very friendly.

"By the end," Sullivan said, "the feeling was much more supportive. People asked questions and shared their thoughts. One person advised how we could contact the ACLU. There were also people who said negative things, but they were in the minority. We want to put in writing that Mago has significant support in Cottonwood."

Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh says he was contacted last week by the Fellowship asking for additional time beyond the Feb. 24 deadline.

He recalled, the Fellowship said, "they are running into problems and asked for a few more days," according to Bartosh, but he refused the request.

"That is not acceptable to us," he told them. "The Planning and Zoning Commission has directed us to take whatever action is necessary if the statue is not down on the morning of the 25th."

Bartosh said that if necessary, the city would have to go to Superior Court to get a court order to force them to remove it. He also noted that could also trigger a revocation of their conditional use permit on the property.

In addition to removal of the large Mago statue, the other smaller statues must be moved within the setback requirements for the zone and proper screening provided so they are not visible from the public street.

The planning commission asked for a completed master development plan be submitted for the site within six months of the Jan. 25 hearing or the CUP would be terminated.

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Related Stories:
• New attorney to defend Tao Fellowship in land use issues
• Letter: In good faith, we have complied with city directive
• Editorial: City was right to stand firm in face of protest stunt
• Protesters block Mago removal (with video)
• Editorial: Fresh start badly needed on Mago Earth Park project
• Earth Park must take down Mago statue (with video)
• Mago Statue showdown: City director recommends statue removal

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2010
Article comment by: Critic Does Not Equal Bigot !

I would have been just as horrified by a big, plastic Jesus.

Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2010
Article comment by: Elizabeth Marone

To "criminal truths" - Great excuse to justify continuing the act of cultural and religious bigotry. Keep giving bigots reasons why they are allowed to continue hating on those who are not Christian or Catholic.

The media is distorted and can make anyone into a criminal and kill their reputation if someone wanted to. The question is is the bad they portray in proportion or relevant to the person's actual achievements and intentions?

(btw...what is up with CNN's sensationalism these days?)

Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010
Article comment by: Criminal Truths

Ilchi Lee and Dahn Yoga and Tao Fellowship are involved in civil lawsuits and other investigations. Allegations have come forward that have been reported on CNN's Campbell Brown show in January 2010, and if you want to see a good article about many of the alleged unlawful activities, look online at the Feb 18, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine under the title of "Yoga Cult". What an eye-opener!

This is no longer about accepting cultural diversity or religious tolerance, it is now about allowing questionable activity in our area and looking the other way in order to avoid being called bigots.

We need to rid our region of this individual and his group of Dahn followers. Read the Rolling Stone investigative report!

Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010
Article comment by: Anger is the enemy

ˇ°Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up. The pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one's opponent.ˇ±

ˇ°Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.ˇ±

ˇ°A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.ˇ± ˇ°All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.ˇ±

ˇ°One's own religion is after all a matter between oneself and one's Maker and no one else's.ˇ±

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010
Article comment by: don jo

@ To Will Walden
To live in a society, persons enter into a social contract with other people. To hold some people to a different standard than others would be discriminatory. Either society holds everybody to the same zoning standards or it holds nobody to that standard. That is how it effects Will Walden and others that have entered into a social contract with others that they will abide by the law.

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010
Article comment by: To Will Walden

So what if there's zoning issues? Why does that effect you?

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010
Article comment by: Will Walden

@ V G

You are obviously out of touch with the issues here and sound just like that out of town protestor on the video. When told that the removal of the statue was a zoning issue she responded: "Oh, I didn't know that!"

Get educated on the issue why don't you?

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010
Article comment by: Brian Carlson

I do not see how any money was being brought into Cottonwood by the Mago park. The money goes into Ilchi Lee's pockets from this "non-profit" organization. This park is not Disneyland. Many people like myself live within eye sight of the park and did not even know it existed until all the controversy started. People were only drawn to the park because of disagreements about the statue. Mago caused division and anger in the community. How can anyone say Mago represented world peace?

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: a puzzled Citizen

Ok I am puzzled, since Tao at the other end of the road, used shuttles to bring their 'tourists' to the park and then shuttled them back, exactly how was Cottonwood's economy going to improve. No hotel, business, restaurant, gift shop has benefited since it came in. How about some proof of these claims? Since you don't have any since there hasn't been any. Stop critisizing the lawful decision. Tao can go through the system properly and lawfully you know. This has ALWAYS been about law violation and local businesses have to abide by the law. Tao thought they didn't have to. Pretty lame reasoning "To Cottonwood...." Maybe it is time for you to move on.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: Peter Nelson

It is clear to me that the Tao Fellowship Corporation has been disingenuous. They are obviously not doing what is required to save the earth OR to communicate with the community. Their actions are wasteful, not earth friendly. Their message is confusing at best (to most of us). I hope that the TFC chooses to communicate openly with the community and make their operations and plans transparent. If they and the city and the county need to hire lawyers to fight with each other, then we have all failed.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: V G

Who are you people to judge them? Leave them alone! Isn't this America?! I'm pretty sure they can put up whatever kind of statue they want. I mean, the Catholic church next to it gets to build that ridiculously large church, why can't the Magos have a large statue? If you think it's ugly, don't look at it! If you don't like their beliefs, don't believe in it! Simple as that. Time to leave people alone and worry about yourselves and what you stand for.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: Will Walden

@ To Cottonwood Locals

Well you are entitled to your opinion and I for one don't believe you are not part of Tao or Dahn, nor do I believe you've been here a long time as you claim and that you are now leaving. You just sound like any other lackey who hasn't gotten their way.

Now about bringing in tourism and the method of doing so ... is that decision really up to just you? Do you own a factory here? A restaurant? A bar? A store? ANY kind of business? Have you asked any of these businesses what they think? Were you at the P&Z meeting at the High School? Business was well represented there.

Or are you just another busy-body protestor who thinks that YOUR preference for the kind of "tourism" that the Mago statue would have brought is what the rest of us want?

How about this ... when the Chinese Massage parlor in Cottonwood was shut down recently ... why weren't you there protesting? Didn't they provide a service that would have brought in "tourism"? Seems they were doing quite well even.

Oh I see ... it's not THAT kind of tourism you meant. Well then it becomes a matter of opinion just what tourism YOU mean would have been good for Cottonwood. Right?

Really now, do you think that the statue would EVER have brought in any business to anyone other than Dahn, Mago and Tao? After all, the little hut on Bill Gray Road is nothing more than a "front" to advertise Dahn and Mago courses ... look inside the place some time, it's a very efficient office devoted not to local businesses but to Mago business.

Come on ... do some research. What tourists really come to see here and do is the red rocks of Sedona, hiking in canyons, climbing mountains, visiting wineries and art galleries, eating at restaurants, gambling ( oops, sorry, the politically correct term is now "gaming" ) inspecting native ruins, and photographing the red rocks sometimes from a balloon, train rides, camping, and visitng health spas.

Most visitors with an esoteric bent go to the real Yoga places and not Dahn ( which isn't Yoga ) and since Mago isn't a religion tourists visit real churches and there are a few lovely ones in the area.

Now that's what people come to see not a fiberglass statue with gold hair described by some crackpot group calling Mago "mother earth". Dahn, Tao and Mago don't even recycle their garbage despite "proclaiming" their love of the earth. What hypocrisy!

Personally, I'm in support of placing the statue on private property well back from the road where it won't be a distraction to anyone driving by. A sign at the highway saying something like Mago - 1 mile would be enough for me. Then, just like all the other businesses here, a 4 x 9 bingo card at the Chamber of commerce telling visitors that this is a local attraction. If it's done right, and properly presented to the Zoning committee, then they ought to approve of such a business. They could advertise to their hearts content online.

Oops! I forgot - the land isn't zoned for that. Well then OK, Earth Park, 1 mile off 89A, a non-profit religious theme park - a nice place to visit would work for me. If it's a tourist trap then buyer beware.

My opinion only of course!

So there you go - whoever you really are. Just like any other small town anywhere - YOU can stay or leave as you wish, but don't try and ram YOUR values down the throats of others here. And don't moralize that the rest of us are somehow not living up to Your vision.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: To Cottonwood Locals

It's tiring trying to get through to a bunch of people who really don't seem to care about the economy of our town or our posterity, but I will make one last attempt:
Mago Statue would have brought tourism into Cottonwood. I see from some of your comments you only care about yourselves, not our local restaurants, motels, gas stations, boutiques, etc. You don't want to see outside money come into our fair city.
Just so you know, I am not a Tao Member or Dahn Yoga Member, just a concerned citizen of Cottonwood, along with many other citizens who enjoyed the statue and are sad to see it removed and our chances of bringing outside money into our town and the hope that people are reminded that the Earth is our mother and we are citizens of the Earth. It is sad to think that my child would be growing up in a town where most are brain dead and are as selfish as the Citizens of Cottonwood seem to be. Don't get me wrong, I have been here a long time, and know first hand how ignorant and self-centered most of you are. It's just blatant now that our city will never have the citizens or council's support in saving our economy. I guess it is time to move. I used to love Cottonwood. I thought it was so beautiful, but now after seeing all the people in this town and their attitudes and their inability to overcome their low mindedness and religious intolerance, I won't be telling people how much I love this city anymore. I will have to agree with all my friends, who moved out of here, that this place really has no conciousness at all and is just a foul place. Good-bye Cottonwood. It is sad to see such a beautiful place populated with such people.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: Area Resident

The Tao Fellowship sent a message to my Google Buzz acount wanting me to be a buddy with them. I don't appreciate SPAM like that, so "No Thanks, Tao Fellowship !" They probably sent to any and everyone in the entire area- sheesh!

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Article comment by: Jessy Jenkins

Response to Local Yokel –

Finally someone I can agree with. Well stated!

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