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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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12/11/2009 11:09:00 AM
Mago statue a towering presence in Verde Valley
The 39-foot-tall statue, representing Mago, which in Korean means the
The 39-foot-tall statue, representing Mago, which in Korean means the "Soul of The Earth," has captured the interest of motorists who have passed the Bill Gray Road area, where the Mago Earth Park stands across the road from the new Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The name Mago, according to Tao Fellowship, derives from ancient East Asian tradition. "Ma," a nearly universal sound representing "Mother," is combined with "Go," meaning "eminent and ancient origin." This is an ancient respectful name for "Mother Earth." VVN/Jon Hutchinson
Ilchi Lee
Ilchi Lee

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


COTTONWOOD -- Many questions that have arisen in Cottonwood should be answered Dec 16 between 10 a.m. and noon. That is the day when 600 dignitaries and guests from around the world will gather to celebrate the new Mago Earth Park and landmark statue of "Mago Mother Earth."

The six-acre park just north of Cottonwood has been created by the non-denominational, non-profit, Tao Fellowship, founded by Ilchi Lee, and operated by Sedona Mago Retreat Center, the 160-acre sanctuary for spiritual growth and meditation. Ilchi Lee, recognized by the United Nations for a life in the pursuit of world peace, is a brain educator, author, and philosopher, according to a press release from Tao Fellowship.

The park will operate under the motto "Love for Humanity and Love for the Earth." A special address by Ilchi Lee at nearby Sedona Mago Retreat Center will highlight this occasion. After the day of celebration, some visitors will spend more time in the Verde Valley/Sedona region attending a special week-long workshop featuring lectures by Ilchi Lee.

According to the Tao Fellowship news release, the future Mago Earth Park will host a variety of educational events for the purpose of promoting peace and environmental sustainability. With this combination of community park and sculpture garden, people of all ages will find a comfortable place to play, relax and reflect. Possible activities and events held at the park may include farmers' markets, festivals, and fairs featuring crafts, art, and music of local artisans, according to retreat spokespersons.

The 39-foot-tall statue, representing Mago, which in Korean means the "Soul of The Earth," has captured the interest of motorists who have passed the Bill Gray Road area, where the Mago Earth Park stands across the road from the new Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The name Mago, according to Tao Fellowship, derives from ancient East Asian tradition. "Ma," a nearly universal sound representing "Mother," is combined with "Go," meaning "eminent and ancient origin." This is an ancient respectful name for "Mother Earth."

According to the Tao Fellowship news release, "This event will celebrate respect and love for Mother Earth. We believe Mother Earth's greatest desire is for all of her children to recover their original connection to nature, to rediscover their true selves, by nurturing Earth's bounty and safeguarding its precious environment."

Cottonwood Community Development Director George Gehlert says the site was originally established in 2006. In November, the Commission considered an amendment to the conditional use permit, but agreed to continue that discussion Dec. 21, 6 p.m., at the Cottonwood Public Safety Building on Sixth Street and Aspen.

In November, the P&Z Commission allowed a stipulation that permits the Mago statue to be erected for a period of time until commissioners could further review the application.

The statue of Mago stands on a 10-foot pedestal.

By comparison, the ridgeline of the neighboring Catholic Church is 38-feet tall, but its spires rise to 60 feet.

According to the Tao Fellowship news release, "the Mago Earth Park and Mago statue will be a statement to the world that the state of Arizona and the people of the Verde Valley are world leaders in their commitment to peace and to living in harmony with the Earth and all people."

Taylor Waste
Related Stories:
• Mago zoning matter draws a huge crowd but no resolution
• Gallery: Mago Earth Park Dedication
• Tao Fellowship dedicates Mago statue and Earth Park
• Mago Park dedication ceremony set today
• Letter: Park provides positive image, but the statue does not
• Letter: Let’s not turn Cottonwood into another Sedona
• Letter: I’ll be there to support the Mago statue
• Letter: Message is fine; messenger is too big
• Letter: Statue is obnoxious, repugnant, offensive
• Letter: Mago Earth Park a welcome addition to Verde Valley
• Letter: Mago statue to be symbolic landmark of peace for Cottonwood
• Letter: Mago Center imposing obtrusive eyesores on entire community

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2010
Article comment by: Dawn Evans

Amazing. As soon as I saw this I was overjoyed. FINALLY the Valley getting some Culture! I have been living in New England for the past 10 years, having grown up in Cottonwood, and I have to say- all of you who are being so ugly about this amazing piece of art would NEVER be tolerated here. Peace is Peace, Love is Love.. and Expression is soul. I do agree with both sides, I would not like every church/hall erecting a statue at its front door like this, but I also know FOR A FACT that if this was a Jesus the Christ or if it were called Mary, half the uproar would not be. Its a shame,the closed minds in the Valley Still.. are you going to close down the Public Library next for not wanting to pay the taxes on it? *sigh* I like Mago, and Was proud to spread the word about her.

Posted: Sunday, December 27, 2009
Article comment by: Nick Hendry

I have to laugh when people complain about this statue being raised. As Salt In My Cut stated if the Christian and Catholic Church raised a statue like that it would be accepted. Where I live at in Ohio and I travel down south I always drive past this huge statue of Jesus probably close to the size of Mago. Another church in my area has a huge sign on their fence that says Jesus Loves You. Many Christians and Catholics have no problem putting up their statues and putting their beliefs out there, but when it comes to others views they can't tolerate it. When I first drove past that statue of Jesus I said to my family "That is one big Jesus" but seen the beauty in it. It doesn't bother me. In times past all religons had huge statues that represented their beliefs and deities. Come on people lets have a little understanding and tolerance of others beliefs. If not this world will be destroyed by our own hands.

Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Article comment by: Focus on the positive

I think this is meant for a global event. I believe the people of Cottonwood and their businesses will have many visitors. Could it be that Cottonwood opposses that and not the Statue? The statue itself can be at first shocking for some, maybe some would feel offended at first, however after settling down in your emotions think about the respect that revolves around the statue and it's true meaning. It is not reliegous..it is spiritual..most reliegons pointing the same way..we are all part of the same tree..Ilchi Lee took the story we hear in the Bible, Buddha, Aztec, Dangun and was creative about it..he put it into symbols..no one ever did that before. The town of Cottonwood is very Lucky. I hope many can focus on this positivity.

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Article comment by: revoledbymisleadingappealtoauthority

Really? "Ilchi Lee, recognized by the United Nations for a life in the pursuit of world peace..." Show us this UN declaration (and what if they did? Does that mean it's okay to erect a gigantuan plastic lamp depicting a Korean god for all to be forced to look at?) Ilchi Lee "...is a brain educator..."?! By whose standards? He teaches that children can see through blindfolds after taking his programs. And what does a giant plastic statue have to do with saving the earth or peace? It's the antithesis. A BLOND Korean woman icon; isn't that a little bit racist? They erected Dangun statues (also a religious icon) in public school yards all over S.Korea - also highly controversial.

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009
Article comment by: business owner

How does the city regulate over-sized signs? This is an example? How can anyone be denied say a motorcycle on a tall pole for a business sign? Diane Jones the mayor needs help.

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009
Article comment by: Smart move, Cottonwood

THAT HAS GOT TO BE THE UGLIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN..WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS AND WHO LET THEM PUT IT THERE, GOTTA LOVE COTTONWOOD AND THEIR BRIGHT IDEAS, GOOD ONE GUYS......

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009
Article comment by: Hope it's temporary

Is that an icon to the Queen of Bleached Blondes Bowling? It's hilarious. (Hope it's temporary.)

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009
Article comment by: Blonde joke

OMG, she's a blonde, would she have been better as a redhead or brunette? the whole controversey is as dumb as the blonde. get a life people.

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009
Article comment by: Bethany Maloney

Re: Mago I'm all for spritual diversity and tolerance. Uh, I don't get how a fiberglass statue, umpteen feet tall, indicates peace, harmony, or oneness with the earth. I admit I sort of like it's goofiness, but it doesn't speak to me of ecology, quite the opposite, it reminds me of the Big Boy statues that used to flank restaurants. Except the Big Boy was cuter.

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Article comment by: Can't we be more accepting?

I attended the opening today at Mago. It was wonderful to see many different people enjoying the day. It is very narrow minded of people to decide that an expression of faith is ugly and must come down. Can't we be more accepting?

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Article comment by: Salt in my cut

Some of these comments are so ignorant. I'm sure that if the Catholic Church put up a statue of the Virgin Mary people would still complain, especially if it was as big, tasteless and ugly as that statue is. Even if the statue was done beautifully it still does not belong here because no one else is allowed to have a statue/sculpture that big in this town. Why should these people be the exception to that rule? Also, why did these people have a ribbon cutting ceremony for this statue if it is supposed to be temporary? if they aren't stopped they will continue to promote paganism and idol worship.

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Article comment by: Clara Sorinas

I think this Mago Statue is an innovative symbol of new perspective on peace on Earth and peace of Humanity. I hope that we can, as citizens of a nation founded on principles of acceptance and equality, receive the heart behind this new symbol with openness, respect and dignity rather than narrow-minded insistence on obsolete values and standards.

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Article comment by: CRAZY!!!

All I can say is that I'm so glad I no longer live in Cottonwood!!!

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Article comment by: Susan

I guess I am really confused.Let's set aside the vision of peace for humanity,in which I believe Cottonwood residents agree.It's not an issue. I always have seen AZ to be the most culturally diverse in our Country. So please help me out here;the art of some cultures is OK if we like it, but if we don't like it,then it gets censored,banned. Isn't that setting us back just a bit in our Country's history?

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Article comment by: It's hideous

Peace and harmony do not come from blatantly placing a huge object in someone else's town that the majority of the populace would find offensive and asking them to accept it, then calling them narrow or closed-minded when they don't. All I have to say is thank goodness that huge church is there to block the view of that hideous thing from my house.


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