Author Interview: Building Community In Virginia City

Jun 1, 2016

Local writer Shaun Griffin has just published a memoir about his work over the past 25 years building a sense of community and securing critical resources for the residents of Virginia City. The book is called Anthem for a Burnished Land: What We Leave in this Desert of Work and Words. In this extended interview, he spoke to our contributors Christina Barr and Alan Deutschman about the book and his difficult journey as a community advocate.

Griffin is the founding executive director of Community Chest in Virginia City. It's a nonprofit that provides a wide array of services to families and children in northwestern Nevada, including medical and mental health services, along with educational programming.

Not too long ago, Griffin and his wife Debbie also helped save the Storey County Library. Both of these feats required gathering community support and funding, which wasn't easy.

"There were many nights where we would lie awake in bed wondering if this was the right decision, if we had moved to the right place, if we had raised our kids in the right place, and if we could sustain the energy and stamina it took to get through to the other side," Griffin said.

Along the way, Griffin also taught writing to prison inmates and published his own books of poetry.

"You know, I would return from the legislature defeated, or a school board meeting, whatever it was," Griffin remembers, "but I could always wake up and write and I could find solace there."

Griffin will be reading from his book at the Silver City School House in Silver City, Nevada on Sunday, June 5 at 4 p.m. Here are the details.

Christina Barr is the executive director of Nevada Humanities and Alan Deutschman is a journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. As a note of disclosure, we should mention that Griffin is a presenter for Humanities On the Road, a program offered by Nevada Humanities.