Local family hits the road to clean up Tennessee

Local family hits the road to clean up Tennessee

June 12th, 2013 in Local Regional News

From left, Linda, Jane and Harlan Porfiri prepare for their Pickin' Up Tennessee trip.

While Harlan Porfiri, 8, imagined her summer vacation totally different, some elements are still the same. Harlan is taking a trip with her family - it just happens to be a monthlong RV trip across the state of Tennessee all in the name of cleaning up the state.

Her family, comprised of her 10-year-old sister Jane and parents, documentary filmmakers Linda and Dave Porfiri, are "Pickin' Up Tennessee." Their trip, which the Porfiris are filming, is being sponsored by a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant to Scenic Tennessee.

According to TDOT, in fiscal year 2011-2012 more than 23 million pounds of litter were collected along 428,441 miles of county, state route and interstate roadsides.

The family left their Harrison-area home June 1 for the first of four "loops," or trips, to five cities in Tennessee where they will hold organized cleanups and a local concert to promote litter pickup. Footage shot during the concerts and cleanups will be edited into a documentary by the Porfiri family.

"There's so much trash on the countryside, like people throw it out of their cars on the freeway," Harlan said while in between trips for the Pickin' Up Tennessee tour. "We saw a pizza box ... a bunch of plastic bottles and cans. It was really bad."

Harlan and Jane have been hard at work so far making an impact on communities, said their dad.

"It's just a great opportunity and a great project to do together," he added. "We've been able to see and do so much."

So far, the family has visited The Farm in Summertown, Tenn., and even met and lunched with county inmates in Marshall County.

"[County inmates] do the bulk of litter removal in these counties, and it was neat to see the kids alongside them," Dave Porfiri said. "In a lot of cases, they are given time off their sentence by paying their debt to society."

The trip has also introduced the family to many state parks, where they stay in their RV overnight.

"We'll even have concerts there and people in the campgrounds will pull their lawn chairs up and enjoy it," Dave Porfiri said.

Even though the Porfiris' trip will end with the end of the month, the impact the campaign has on the communities across Tennessee will be long-lasting, the family said.

"It's important because it's a good dead, but we're also helping the Earth and helping other people enjoy Tennessee and see what we saw," said Harlan.