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Local Girl Scouts join forces with Scenic Tennessee

Local Girl Scouts join forces with Scenic Tennessee
Local Girl Scouts join forces with Scenic Tennessee

PITCHING IN — More than five Girl Scout troops from across Weakley County joined forces Tuesday afternoon to help pick up litter along a stretch of King Road. The project was part of the statewide “Pickin’ Up Tennessee” tour.

Long known for rolling hills, mountain vistas and lively music, Tennessee continues to struggle with some mind-numbing roadside litter statistics.
Now, Scenic Tennessee is doing its part to positively impact the littered landscape with a statewide campaign that combines local music, scenic photography and community litter cleanups into online videos and social media networking. The effort began June 1 with a month-long Pickin’ Up Tennessee tour designed to drive home the campaign’s powerful message: Love the land. Lose the litter.
Girl Scouts from at least six different troops across Weakley County volunteered their time Tuesday to help the campaign.
The local Girl Scouts, wearing reflective vests and carrying trash bags, made their way along a stretch of King Road near Martin. They picked up litter along the way and collected several bags full.
According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), in fiscal year 2011-12 more than 23 million pounds of litter were collected along 428,441 miles of county, state route and interstate roadsides. To combat the problem, TDOT recently awarded a total of $1 million in “special litter grants,” using funds provided by the state’s soft drink and malt beverage industries. Scenic Tennessee was one of 15 award-winners who proposed unique ways not only to address litter “beyond routine maintenance” but to promote recycling as well.
Pickin’ Up Tennessee was chosen in part because it makes use of hundreds of volunteers, like the Girl Scouts, as well as numerous partnerships. The Tennessee Division of State Parks, for instance, is providing campsites along the roughly 2,000-mile tour route, while countless organizations and individuals are providing music talent and cleanup volunteers.
“We are passionate about keeping Tennessee roadsides clean,” said Shawn Bible, TDOT’s beautification coordinator. “Pickin’ Up Tennessee plays a vital role in this effort by using volunteerism as well as social media and technology to instill pride in our environment and specifically to help protect and preserve Tennessee’s natural beauty.”
“Tennessee State Parks are home to some of the most beautiful places our state has to offer and we encourage all of our visitors to help keep our parks clean,” said Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “We are very pleased to be a part of the Pickin’ Up Tennessee outreach effort and appreciate the work that Scenic Tennessee has put forth to spread such a positive message across the state.”
Pickin’ Up Tennessee has enlisted musician-volunteers in all 20 tour locations to provide the soundtrack for the 20 tour videos. These performances will result in a sound-quilt of Tennessee music traditions, from gospel in Memphis to garage band in Nashville to old-timey fiddle in the Smokies.
Results of each cleanup, including the amount of materials recycled, will be posted in a running tally on the website.
“It’s an honor to be selected by TDOT to promote a cause we believe in so passionately,” said Scenic Tennessee President Marge Davis, who was in Weakley County to organize the effort from the Girl Scouts. “Pickin’ Up Tennessee is about celebrating the state’s beauty, cleaning up our environment and championing some of the rich music and diverse creative spirit of Tennesseans we’ll meet along our tour route. This awareness tour is the first step of our effort. Our next goal is to raise funds for a documentary film based on this project, along with classroom education modules featuring the children who will be involved in this project.”
Two of these children are Jane and Harlan Porfiri, daughters of award-winning documentary filmmakers Dave Porfiri and Linda Duvoisin of Mindflow Media in Chattanooga, Tenn. As Dave and Linda travel across the state in the Pickin’ Up Tennessee RV, filming, photographing and editing, Jane (10) and Harlan (turning 8 mid-tour) will participate in cleanups, talk about litter and recycling with other youngsters and even keep their own blogs. Meet the family in an introductory tour video at www.pickinuptn.org.
Long after the RV tour has ended, the project will continue to post additional videos submitted by communities and individuals who agree that littering is no way to love a land so rich in scenic, artistic and community blessings.
Larry and Elaine Conger of Paris are emblematic of that generosity. Larry is a master of the mountain dulcimer whose 35-year career has produced fourteen dulcimer books, three recordings and a national championship. Elaine is a music educator and Orff-Schulwerk specialist who has provided piano and back-up vocals to country superstar Faith Hill.
Passionate environmentalists, the Congers immediately agreed to play for the Pickin’ Up Tennessee tour when it passed through Henry County on Tuesday, just a few hours after leaving Weakley County. The tune they’ve chosen, “September on the Mississippi,” is a Larry Conger original with a timeless sound. “Any time I can use my music to help bring attention to a project as important as the need to keep Tennessee clean, I am more than willing,” Larry Conger said.
Track the progress of Pickin’ Up Tennessee at www.pickinupTN.org or by using various social media including Instagram, Pinterest, or Google+.

(Published in The Press on 6.13.13)

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