New ECO Learning Center Opens

By Michela Mangiaracina Comment

Ilchi Lee gives a congratulatory address for the ECO Learning Center Grand Opening.

As founder of the Earth Citizens Organization (ECO) and Earth Citizen Movement, Ilchi Lee gave a congratulatory speech at the grand opening of the ECO Learning Center in Cottonwood, AZ yesterday, September 20, 2016. Representatives from the City of Cottonwood and the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce—County Supervisor Chip Davis, Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh, and Marketing Director of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce Michelle Masters—also gave their congratulations in person, and Arizona State Senator Silvia Allen sent a message, because she was out of town. The honored guests expressed their appreciation that ECO built a facility and program in Cottonwood that will attract visitors from around the world and that promotes sustainability and natural health.

Ribbon Cutton Ceremony

During the opening ceremony, which ended with a ribbon cutting, Steve Kim, executive director of ECO, revealed their plans to bring different groups to the center to learn sustainable living and to work with communities around the world.

Executive Director Steve Kim talks about ECO's past and future.

Students who attend the center's regular yoga and qigong classes treated the guests to a special qigong performance.

Tao Center qigong performance
Special qigong performance by the ECO Learning Center's members.

The site of the new learning center used to be an old bar and restaurant, remembered fondly by the community and left fallow for many years. The building abuts the Verde River, a welcome body of water in the high desert environment of Cottonwood. The river was part of what attracted him, Ilchi Lee said, when he bought the property almost twenty years ago, looking forward to a time when he could develop it into a place where people from all over the world could discover their true value, uncover their dreams, and learn how to live mindfully and sustainably. In his address, Lee abandoned his notes and expressed his heartfelt gladness that his dream for the area was beginning to come to fruition.

Inside Eco Learning Center

ECO Learning Center couch
The colorful outside and inside of the ECO Learning Center.

The ECO Learning Center was made possible by donations from individuals around the world, and a grant from Microsoft as part of their UpgradeYourWorld Campaign. The new facilities include classrooms, a dining hall, offices, and a sustainable farm with an organic greenhouse. The curriculum of its training programs encompasses organic farming, sustainable construction (building tiny houses), leadership development, mindfulness practices, and natural health methods such as Ilchi Lee's Belly Button Healing.

ECO donors
ECO Learning Center donors and volunteers.

ECO was founded in 2013 by Ilchi Lee. Since then, it has been training leaders and organizing community events to help people "live mindfully and get healthier naturally." ECO's goal is to have 100 million people identify themselves as Earth Citizens by 2020. They believe that when this 1 percent of the population recognizes that the planet on which we depend is the central value on which we should base our decisions, our world will inevitably change.

Live ECO
The green tea with gold flecks congratulatory cake tells everyone to LIVE ECO.

To make this change, ECO is encouraging all Earth Citizens to LIVE ECO: 

  1. Be kind.
  2. Don't waste.
  3. Exercise inside out. (Don't just workout your muscles; strengthen your inner core as well and make better decisions.)

So far 66,252 Earth Citizens have joined ECO. Many of them are also working in their communities teaching the Brain Education practice Ilchi Lee developed, planting trees, cleaning roads, and hosting Earth Citizen Walks.

Those interested in joining the Earth Citizen Movement and calling themselves an Earth Citizen can go to www.earthcitizens.org.