TIETON, Wash. — When Ed Marquand first saw the small town of Tieton just outside Yakima, the area was in pretty rough shape.
"When we got here in 2005, not only was it economically depressed, but I think a lot of the people who lived here just felt depressed because they felt like there wasn't really any hope of changing the trajectory that the town was in," Marquand said.
But Marquand had an idea: Covert abandoned buildings into spaces where artisan businesses could create while helping the locals as well.
"We had developed this model of kind of a hands across the Cascades, realizing creative business ambitions from Seattle people on the westside, but doing the production here and hiring people from the community," Marquand said.
Marquand said one of the first buildings they bought was the Mighty Titan warehouse, which had been a cold storage warehouse for a couple of decades.
Now spaces long empty are home to talents like the kinetic sound sculptor, Trimpin.
"The sound space we have here consists of many of the instruments he's made over the decades," said Marquand. "They can live here; he can use the space to compose for them. Occasionally, they go off to museum exhibits, and then they come back."
Marquand said they also took a cold storage room with very high ceilings and created an art gallery with changing exhibitions.
"Inside the mosaic studio, we create glass murals that are hung in public places. I did a little research and discovered that there weren't any typographic mosaic studios in the country anymore and decided that might be a good enterprise," said Marquand. "We started doing fruit label mosaics. So if you come to Tieton and drive around, you'll see seven large mosaics, And they're all based on local fruit labels, orchardists and orchard families from the 20th century."
Today, the town is a much different town than the one Marquand first saw years ago.
"We've certainly filled a lot of the storefronts around here," Marquand said. "We've employed lots of people. We've brought a lot of good press to the community. The town of Tieton and the people who live here have been just so welcoming, so enthusiastic and are very eager to participate in big and small ways."
Agriculture meets artisans - the Mighty Tieton project is bearing fruit for all.