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16 January . 2016

Cairns – A Tehaleh Inspiration

As you start to explore the forestry trails and parks at Tehaleh, you’ll happen upon a series of curious rock statues called Cairns. These seemingly simple piles of stones are actually meaningful landmarks that are near and dear to the community and region. Here’s how Cairns became an integral part of Tehaleh.

During our initial research for Tehaleh, it quickly became clear that the forest, mountain and trails were going to become a big part of not only the story of Tehaleh, but the community experience.

As we went through the development and envisioning workshops, a real focus was placed on connectivity between the forest and the built environment, as reflected in the first two planning principles:
1. Maximize the community’s closer proximity to Mount Rainier and present the view as a focal point within the neighborhoods, employment center and gathering places throughout the community.
2. Integrate the forest with the built environment throughout the community, saving the natural forest edges, enhancing the preserved open space and protecting the wildlife corridors through innovative stewardship.

As we developed the logo for the community, we looked to natural elements that supported this focus and we were drawn to the Cairn. It has both natural and human elements, and it tied in perfectly with our focus on connectivity through nature trails.

In short, a Cairn is human-made stack of rocks or stones that is often used as a trail marker. We felt it was a perfect fit with our community and brand, so it was integrated into the logo.

From there, and through the visioning process, the team found ways to incorporate the Cairns as markers throughout the community, like at the entry to our parks, and as free-standing markers as you enter the community (initially in very rough form and becoming more refined and artistic as you approach the built environment).

Over the years, residents have adopted the Cairn as their own and stacked them on trails throughout the community, or gift them to each other or back to the community.

It is something that is truly Tehaleh.