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Proposed Sustainable Pilgrimage Site in Sedona

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock review of the October 27 City Council meeting addresses public concerns about 100 acres of city land being offered for a Sedona metaphysical and spiritual pilgrimage “headquarters”

Sedona AZ (October 29, 2015) – Following the City of Sedona October 27 Council meeting and an agenda decision to contact a Dr. Shailesh Rao to discuss benefits of a sustainable vegan lifestyle community in Sedona, SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock reviewed the Council meeting video to address public concerns, comments and questions about Dr. Rao and a proposed City of Sedona and Council relationship:

ORIGIN: At the request of Councilman Jon Thompson and Mayor Sandy Moriarty, this item was placed on a City Council Agenda. Jon Thompson made contact with Dr. Sailesh Rao, a man from Phoenix who has been part of an international consortium strategizing about alleged climate change and has worked closely with the United Nations.

PURPOSE: Based on compatibility with a Sedona Community Plan provision to establish sustainability and conserve resources, implementation of this plan was offered as a suggestion for future consideration.

Unlike other pilgrimage sacred sites, Dr. Rao considers Sedona as being removed from organized religion, but connected more with spirituality and the metaphysical. For that reason and Sedona’s “steady stream of visitors” he even suggested consideration for Sedona to be the “Headquarters” for his mission that he emphasized is largely directed towards promoting a vegan diet and saving animals.

INTENT: For Mr. Rao to attend the meeting and make a presentation to City Council for the purpose of explaining methods by which his consortium operates at selected worldwide locations. They are advocates of promoting and educating visitors, including overnight stays, on the environmental footprint of lifestyle choices and sustainable alternatives.

Identified as “The Sacred Lifeline Project” the basic premises are:

Common Theme: Cherish Life;
Close to Earth: Simple Living;
Close to Nature: Sustained Living;
Close to the Soul: Spiritual Living;
Close to the People: Communal Living
Close to its Environs: Connected Living

Considerations to be included in a Life Line site project are micro housing, villages, gardens, farming plots, vegan store, café/restaurant, market place, library, and entry plaza. Proposed activities are yoga, meditation, farming, biking, walking, classes, gardening, reading, and art/culture.

Water conservation has been researched such as “Condensation Water Harvesting” to capture water from the air, as well as, recycling gray water for irrigation purposes among other methods of renewable energy.

Although all members of the City Council expressed support for sustainability, comments and questions were addressed, including, but not limited to:

  • Amount of land needed – 100 acres, preferably provided through a long-term lease agreement with the City; reassurance the project was not affiliated with any particular organized religion; an estimated two-year time frame for project completion once land was acquired. “A new demographic of visitors” was offered as one way in which the city might benefit as such a facility is anticipated to attract a younger generation.

Councilwoman Jessica Williamson questioned availability of 100 acres and emphasized her opposition to city financial support and/or land contribution. She also questioned feasibility for the project.

After expressing some concern about crowd control, Councilman Mark DiNunzio did commit to remain “open minded” and encouraged continuing the conversation and to remain involved by monitoring progress.

Councilman Jon Thompson, originator of bringing this matter to City Council, characterized the 100 acres as “not a deal killer” and brought up The Dells land owned by the City, but not “giving it away.” He encouraged a letter on behalf of the City of Sedona to be forthcoming to indicate acceptance and compatibility with the concept and offered his personal services to work towards “making it happen.”

Referencing Sedona’s “aging population” Councilman Thompson spoke in favor of an opportunity to attract younger people to the area.

Mr. Thompson stated further: “We may need to expand to talk with our other communities. One of the things we learned from recent discussion abut a National Monument Designation here is that we’re not just Sedona here but we’re the Sedona area. Maybe it’s the area that needs to embrace this and we need to bring in other communities and see how they can support it and so forth. But I would absolutely, absolutely, say that we should ask our city manager to write that letter saying we are intrigued by the concept, that there is alignment with your goals and our goals as a city, and that we have no idea whether it could work but we would be willing to give it that effort.”

Thompson intends to encourage placing this high on the 2016 list of Council Priorities when Council discussions ensue in December.

After five speakers from the public made supportive statements, including one reference to the potential for Sedona to become the “Spiritual Mecca of the World,” Mayor Moriarty, agreeing to remain open minded with a supportive city letter, called for Council comments in order to reach a conclusion.

SUMMATION: City Manager Justin Clifford suggested the letter be very explicit and cautioned about writing anything that might be misconstrued as an agreement to participate, such as development approval or partnership.

Councilman Scott Jablow was also concerned about anything in writing that would convey false hope, while Councilman John Martinez definitely objected to the letter because he, himself, was not “in alignment” although he qualified the concept was “a wonderful idea” that reminded him “of the 60’s.”

Councilwoman Angela LeFevre, agreeing with Martinez, has concerns with aligning ourselves to a certain project while Mark DiNunzio maintained an open minded procedure keeping in mind not one size fits all. Jessica Williamson, although acknowledging sustainability as a global concern has various meanings, agreed the letter should be written.

With the exception of John Martinez, direction was given to Sedona City Manager, Justin Clifford, to proceed with writing the letter based on the cautionary suggestions previously outlined by him.

Read www.SedonaEye.com for daily news and interactive views!

Read www.SedonaEye.com for daily news and interactive views!


  1. Why would anyone object to this article or any of them on Sedona Eye for that matter @West Sedona Resident? The logical option is to avoid the web site unless such disgruntled people are just so angry that citizens don’t line up and march to the orders of officials like the Germans did Hitler? Well guess what, we are supposed to be living in a democracy and not cult-like “do as we say” conditions except, of course, for those who choose to live that lifestyle.

    Get a grip, WSR.

  2. Larry says:

    Speaking only for myself, I very much resent that Jon Thompson (or anyone else making decisions for voting citizens of Sedona) would be so presumptuous as to consider using the words the “city is in alignment” of what was proposed at that meeting. It’s bad enough a letter was agreed to be sent at all, but these people need to restrain their thinking that they unconditionally can make decisions for our lifestyles without consideration of those that elected them – and which were NOT people living outside Sedona City Limits.

  3. Here we go again. Another example of forked tongue speech. All the talk about a National Monument while city approves 3 or 4 new hotels, community focus areas, and now considers an entire new community in or near Sedona?

    And how does this factor in with the millions of dollars given to the regional Chamber of Commerce to presumably advertise for big-spending destination tourists? And the success of that, incidentally, is yet to be proven that the result of all that high cost advertising has produced little else besides traffic clogging day trippers.

    Furthermore, the land at the city owned Dells is outside city limits and therefore development is subject to approval by Yavapai County and not the know-it-all Sedona P & Z Commission and/or City Council.

    What a waste of time to deviate so drastically from the categorized list of priorities already on the agenda. Little wonder there’s such a constant turnover of city staff.

  4. Ainsley says:

    Under “Eye on Sedona with City Councilwoman Angela LeFevre, “Wes” says (11/7 -9:58pm):

    ” From what I’ve being able to glean both the Chamber and Lodging mini group both support the cult idea.”

    And why do you suppose that is, Wes? Could it be because Jon Thompson was one of their “favored” candidates for city council last election and at a recent council meeting when reporting on Chamber activities he actually recommended more money be given to them for product development!

    Dum – de -dum, dum – and DUH! It’s called NOT biting “one” of the hands that feed you.

  5. Son of A Gun says:

    Is it possible certain council members have such influential connections directly with Washington DC that a recent chain of events was preordained and then neatly orchestrated?

    For example, first comes approval of – what was it ? – a “Human Rights Ordinance” followed by a shattered attempt by namely Barbara Litrell, Angela LeFevre, Jessica Williamson, and Jon Thompson to push through a National Monument designation.

    Of course, Keep Sedona Beautiful under the skilled leadership of NM allies will most likely see that through to fruition, without the blessing of local jurisdictions, which will result in “federal control” to encourage enforcement of the “Human Rights Ordinance.”

    Now we have the proposal for this Sustainable Pilgrimage to be followed up in the not not too distant future consideration for little Sedona to raise the minimum wage.

    Were they actually smart enough to strategically sandwich in all of the above prior to the recent terrorist attacks in order to set the stage for the grand finale: CERTIFIED SANCTUARY CITY.

    Fear not, ISIS terrorists. If those in control here have their way you will have already found a new home.

    Chamber of Commerce, kiss your sweetheart financial arrangement goodbye! That quite possibly is the only upside of this scenario.


  6. Marv says:

    @Son of A Gun:

    BINGO! (except cannot wrap my head around any of these socialists as being smart enough to dream up such a scheme but the pieces to the puzzle surely do seem to fit. Sedona soon might be recognized for far more than scenic red rocks. the new trend: Burqa shops?)

  7. It’s very quiet out there and understandably so. With the upswing in terror attacks can you imagine the position Sedona will be placed in should either an invitation to a “Pilgrimage Site” or “National Monument” come to pass?

    With the leader of our once great country remaining in denial that the most recent attack on innocent citizens of this country isn’t an exercise in hostility we are all at risk. Yes, even in little Sedona when the majority at the helm of this city council would without doubt promote embracing terrorists into our midst.

    Pilgrimage Site, National Monument and what next? Sanctuary city? Great publicity for the controlling “regional” Chamber of Commerce to embrace. Upgrade the name to “Global Chamber of Commerce” and think about how much money you can snatch-grab to promote your own agenda. The door is open. Run with it. But keep in mind, bullets have no discretion. City Council, are you listening?

  8. guess WHO? says:

    The Sedona Grinch is a bitter, grouchy, Oak Creek Canyon cave-dwelling short in statue, cheap socialist monster with a heart “two sizes too small” who lives on Thompson Road, a steep high mountain just north of Sedona, home of the merry and warm-hearted flatlanders, Sedona. His only companion is his unloved, but loyal dogs, and is go along wife. From his Oak Creek canyon cave, the Sedona Grinch can hear the noisy flatlanders Christmas festivities that take place in Sedona. Annoyed and feeling entitled, he decides to steal Christmas from coming by stealing their civil rights and food for their Christmas feast. He crudely disguises himself as Santa Claus (chamber-lodging council), and forces workers, disguised as a reindeer, to drag a sleigh to Sedona City Council. Once there, the Sedona Grinch slides down the City Council chamber and steals all of the Sedona’ City money, presents , assets, advertising, the Christmas tree, and the log for their fire claiming “trust me” using it all for his personal gain while eating canned soup on his cheap a** vacation.

    We ALL know who this is JA steve ss

  9. steve segner says:

    YOO HOO, HELLO says:
    ” our once great country remaining in denial”
    then you will like this

  10. Just Sayin' says:

    You know, I think that it’s about time that the webmaster of this site starts pulling some of these space wasting posts. They really accomplish nothing. I guess that with the National monument, Pilgrimage, smart meters, 89A street lights topics of the past there’s not much to sink our keyboards into.

    It would be nice if we could all agree on one topic that could help someone during this holiday season i.e. homeless and hungry.

  11. Pretty interesting publicity about Sedona in today’s Arizona Republic (12/06). Specifically the front page and very lengthy article about the National Monument issue.

    What’s amusing to me is the focus on the fight at the “country club outside Sedona.”

    Chamber of Commerce, are you reading this? What about you, City Council as you approve thousands of dollars to advertise competitive regional establishments, blatantly shunning Sedona City based businesses that aren’t members of this “Greater Sedona Area” Chamber of Commerce.

    The reference to opponents gaining strength “drawing on anti-government sentiment” coupled with “hometown issues like the nightmarish weekend traffic jams” do not portray Sedona as the world-class destination be-all for tourists that allegedly has been the target market for City of Sedona tax money, also spent to promote “the country club outside Sedona.”

    Special mention of “Arizona Liberty” group and “Rick Normand, who writes for the on-line Sedona Eye” add to the home-town unified effort, once the mainstay of Sedona businesses and residents instead of the push-pull ongoing strife for surviving against the influence of obvious controlling forces. Wait until word gets out about the proposed “Sustainable Pilgrimage Site” for the Sedona City owned sewer plant acreage.

    Might this be the beginning of the collapse of the house-of-cards that’s been set in motion by controlling, special interests that are responsible for turning this once respectable small-town into a nightmare of ugly scandals that are just now beginning to surface?

  12. Hello Just Sayin’ and others in your Sedona and elsewhere world………….US World Report we thank you for offering it first….

    WATCH THIS – you are the teacher and the three students – not the brown one (just in case you can’t figure it out)—-


  13. Suzanne says:

    @Just Sayin’ –

    Haven’t you heard of the right to Freedom of Speech which sort of goes along with Freedom of the Press – even on-line? You also have the right to read only what you choose. If you dislike this site, why do you even bother to check it out?

    You are correct. The issue of the controversial 89A lighting which ultimately turned into an attempt for City of Sedona to accept ownership of the State Highway was resolved, as two ballot measures decided by Sedona City registered voters.

    Neither the National Monument nor suggested Pilgrimage Site have been reconciled. However, once President Obama declares this a National Monument the document might very well include for at least a portion of this area to be designated as a sanctuary for the homeless, hungry, and even undocumented refugees seeking to take control of our country.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  14. Just Sayin' says:


    I got exactly what I wished for; No Natl Monument, No ownership of 89A AND it’s a lot safer with those lights that no one even notices anymore, I don’t really think that we’d get that pilgrimage site agreeing with the one poster that it could turn into a terrorist camp (I watched that presentation and laughed my butt off)

    I would also like to see more money for our schools AND the teachers who give so much to the kids and get paid next to nothing.

  15. @Adelaide Down Under, you hit a home run with the video!

    Of course you will probably also be scrutinized for the “Down Under” portion following “Adelaide” since those like Just Sayin’ have a problem accepting that readers of Sedona Eye aren’t limited to their narrow minded politically correct circle of associates with their phony baloney squeaking clean agendas. (Speaking of discrimination, only when the shoe fits as long as it’s on someone else other than Just Sayin’ etal?)

  16. Richard W. says:

    What to you mean “No Natl Monument” @Just Sayin’? Obama will still be Pres. for 13 more months – yes – until mid January 2017 – which gives him plenty of time to create his own version of a Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock National Monument. Maybe you might learn something if you read (in addition to Sedona Eye) the Arizona Republic.

    No National Monument? Ha – just wait and see.

  17. Marty says:

    You reek with the stench of the greedy on-the-take Chamber Gang @Just Sayin’.

    Why else do you so love the W89A lighting and yet state you are so against a Nat’l. Monument designation? Afraid you’d lose the millions of Sedona CITY tax revenue allegedly for advertising?

    There will be no need to waste precious dollars on promoting Sedona (as if it needs it now and as if that’s how the money is being effectively spent) since a National Monument designation (with unknown specifications) would obviously take promoting Sedona to an entirely different level.

    And you bitch about other people’s comments on this site?

  18. Just Sayin' says:

    @ Marty

    Here are my original comments from above, can you please show me where I ever said that I “loved” the lights on 89A??

    “I got exactly what I wished for; No Natl Monument, No ownership of 89A AND it’s a lot safer with those lights that no one even notices anymore,”

    You seem to like to twist other peoples comments to suit your own agenda, whatever that is.

    You also seem to think that anyone who disagrees with you must work for the C of C. Well, I don’t work for anyone anymore and I am entitled to my own opinion which seems to always be opposite of yours.

  19. Marty says:

    The choice of my words regarding your acceptance of the 89A lights were just that @Just Sayin’ – MY CHOICE as clearly indicated by the omission of quotation marks.

    There’s no dispute here that we’re ALL entitled to our own opinions. However, wasn’t it you that started this bickering in the first place by complaining to the Sedona Eye webmaster by registering your objection to comments being posted on this site that differ from your own thinking?

    That’s just one of several examples why you sound like an affiliate of the C of C. Again my own opinion.

  20. Paul says:

    and then all about Sedona was peace and red rocks and all the people said this is a good thing and delighted that all the Made in China chotskies and Fast Food wrappers disappeared from the Sedona streets and houses, and the locals came out of their hiding places and marveled in the beauty they had fought so valiantly to protect from the uncaring hands of many who would destroy their red rocks and cover them with asphalt and concrete and the feet of the uncaring who came for chotskies and fast food and not the peace and the beauty surrounding them …

  21. Mary S. says:

    @Paul: question: do you support the idea of a sustainable pilgrimage or are you referring to Sedona before it incorporated and became a city, created a sewer treatment plant, and thus opened the door for all the new development you so accurately point out that continues to destroy this place?

    The notion in the community plan to maintain a small town atmosphere adds insult to injury.

  22. Eddie Maddock says:

    This issue is scheduled to be revisited at the Sedona City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 4:30 PM Council Chambers, Sedona City Hall


    b. AB 2101 Presentation/discussion/possible direction regarding a proposed sustainable pilgrimage site and the possible continued planning of the Dells Land.

  23. JeanJ says:

    A conceptual plan for the Dells property at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, CFA 13, was created last September by the Dells Land Use Group–comprised of citizens and special interests. The property is 200 acres located west of SR 89A.

    The 200-acre conceptual site plan consists of a Native Greenbelt, Native Grass Seed Prod., Vineyards, Winery and Demo Orchard, Research/Edu. Center, Staff Housing, Parking, Roadway, Amphitheater/Festival Grounds, Orchards, Ag. Bldgs./Greenhouses, Bot. Gardens/Interp. Trails, and Campground.

    The last I heard Dr. Rao wanted to lease 100 acres for his sustainable pilgrimage site. The 99 year, long-term lease payment proposed is $500,000/yr, with payment starting two years after initiation and reduced to $1 at year 30. What happens and who is responsible if the project is not successful or the Sacred Lifeline people up and leave at any point?

  24. James Harrington says:

    What I would ask is how did this get put back on the high priority list? The last tally to my recollection it didn’t make the cut. Who’s behind pulling this new set of strings? More hanky panky deals behind closed doors? Oh garbage haulers, where art thou?

  25. Amazing! says:

    This city council has nothing better to do than spend a couple of hours listening to another preposterous sales pitch? Another “just trust us” type thing? That’s what happened on Tuesday (4/26) when it was laid out that this urgent event must not be delayed for even one more second! The bridge to Utopia? – ah yes.

    Clearly JT was the brains(?) behind trying to get this thing back on the fast track. Segner’s girl Sand sort of backed off after learning the proposed lease agreement would deny any payment to Sedona for the first two years! Really? Sweet deal? Most assuredly NOT for Sedona.

    Little consideration was given to the fact the Dells property is outside city limits. But then this gang of seven (six at the meeting) is so accustomed to ruling the entire Verde Valley that small detail didn’t seem to matter. Oh, let us hope when the final shoe is dropped Yavapai County sticks to their very rigid zoning for that property and promptly puts the kibosh on the whole absurd idea.

    The latest act in Sedona’s Comedy of Errors is what this is. The Dells Community Focus Area translated: Sedona’s version of Hildale/Colorado City ongoing scandal. But the conclusion was that it wouldn’t jump to the top of the priority list until sometime next year. Wanna bet?

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