In the Spring of 2004, Judy Kramer, a lifelong Republican and resident of Chagrin Falls found herself questioning President Bush’s decisions. She invited a few people she knew who were against the Iraq War and similarly disenchanted with the Bush administration for coffee and discussion.
Within a week the group had grown to eight members and they’d outgrown their table at Einstein’s Bagels -- so they moved to Heinen’s café. As their numbers grew into the twenties, these men and women decided to organize... and a grass roots group was born. It took several more meetings to select a name. At the time, President Bush was challenging Americans to support his policies wholeheartedly -- criticisms or disagreement were “unpatriotic.” Hence, the name Patriots for Change was selected, a name that continues to have resonance within the progressive movement.
Officers were chosen, by-laws written, and an office on Bell St. was rented. A website was created to reach out to other progressives and the members met twice a month to educate each other about issues and candidates. Although Patriots for Change had begun as an antidote to the war in Iraq, it grew in scope and influence. Members read and discussed books about health care, the war and the economy and clarified their thinking. They held forums on the Electoral College, Social Security, the Ohio budget and health care reform. And they canvassed for candidates who supported universal health care, ending the war in Iraq, campaign finance reform and changing our energy policy.
Today, over 300 people in the Chagrin Valley receive our emails and action alerts. One indication of our success is reflected in the results of the 2008 election. Chagrin Falls, a traditionally “red’ town, chose the progressive, Barack Obama, over the conservative, John McCain. Education and community action have indeed made a change!