This message about the dissolution of the Patriots for Change organization has been sent to Patriots for Change members via our organizational email. It is being posted on this website to inform others, including members of our Patriots for Change Facebook Group — who will have the option of maintaining the FB Group as an independent entity. Thank you all for your interest and participation.
It is with sadness that we are writing to inform our faithful members and followers that the Patriots for Change Steering Committee voted at its March 12, 2021 meeting to disband the organization. This was not a decision arrived at lightly. Indeed, it was arrived at following many months of sometimes fraught discussions. We examined possible paths to retaining and reinvigorating the group, including: reducing program offerings, maintaining more accessible and less expensive Zoom presentations and meetings in place of face to face meetings and reaching out to find new leadership.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of factors that have frustrated our efforts. The pandemic has certainly been a factor, contributing to high levels of stress and reduced time for volunteer activities as residents make necessary adjustments in their lifestyle. Then, there is more competition from new, vigorous groups that have arisen in the area. The last election, with the victory of a more progressive administration, may also have dampened the activism drive There has also been a dwindling in the number of Patriot Steering Committee members as individuals moved on to new pursuits or found less time and energy available for volunteerism as they aged.
Informing you of this decision is especially difficult because our members have been the lifeblood of the organization for 16 years: supporting us financially with dues and donations, attending programs and special events, and by pitching in when help was needed to accomplish progressive goals by canvassing, obtaining signatures for ballot initiatives, or supporting vigils. THANK YOU! Leadership can accomplish little without membership support. We will miss you.
Dispersal of remaining assets (which will be between $2,000 and $3,000 after all closing fees and other obligations are met) was discussed. Decision was made by current members of the Steering Committee to conduct rank order preference voting from a lengthy list of nonprofit groups with which the organization has been allied and others which also reflect Patriot values. Three groups emerged as the clear preference of members. Accordingly, on April 9, 2021 the Steering Committee voted to disperse remaining funds to the following groups (percent based on rank): Chagrin Falls Community Center (50% of assets), Single Payer Action Network of Ohio (SPAN Ohio) (25%), and Cleveland Jobs with Justice (25%)
If you’d like to maintain contact on social media with Patriot for Change friends as well as with others in the group from outside of Patriots (and the Chagrin area), we are planning to continue our Facebook group of about 200 people as an independent entity. We invite you to join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Patriots4Change if you don’t already belong. Please check that link for further information, including possible restructuring details as the transition proceeds.
As Bob Dylan sang in The Times They Are A-Changin’
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land present
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
So let’s reminisce with a little history….In the spring of 2004 Judy Kramer, a resident of Chagrin Falls and lifelong Republican, found herself questioning President Bush’s decisions. She knew other people who were anti-war and anti-Bush policies so she invited them for coffee and discussion.
A week later their number grew to eight and they outgrew their table at Einstein’s Bagels so they moved to Heinen’s café. When their number exceeded twenty, 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; to criticize or disagree was to be “unpatriotic.” Hence, the name “Patriots for Change” was chosen, a name that continues to resonate with the progressive movement.
Officers were chosen, by-laws drawn up and a storefront office on Bell St. was procured. A website was created to reach out to other progressives. Members, now over a 100, met twice a month to educate each other about issues and candidates. Although Patriots for Change began as an antidote to the Bush administration, it grew in scope and influence.
Members discussed books about health care, the war, the economy and how to frame our message for greater influence. They held forums on the Electoral College, Social Security, the Ohio Budget and Health Care Reform. They also canvassed for candidates who believed, as they did, in health care for all, ending the Iraq War, bringing reform to electoral campaigns and changing our energy policy.
One indication of our growing influence was the election of 2008 when a majority of Chagrin Falls voters helped to elect Barak Obama to the presidency, an event celebrated with a big party at the Town Hall. We had begun to bring about change through community education and action, a very satisfying outcome….
While scanning through the years of email notices and advocacy sent to members, our focus hasn’t changed. Countless alerts were sent to make calls, write legislators, attend rallies, march downtown or in D.C., discuss books, attend films, and meet at the library or at the office to hear speakers.
Even in the early years we advocated for gun safety, fair elections, climate change (especially anti-fracking), peace, immigration legislation, women’s health rights, single payer health insurance, transparency in government, and human trafficking.
Highlights over the years began with….
- Lawrence Lessig’s talk at Cleveland State. It was a coup to get him to come, but Judy, Lori and I attended the first Coffee Party Convention and spoke with him. That’s all it took!
- Marches in D.C. for Women’s Rights and Global Warming were inspiring for their size and scope. Several of us traveled by bus overnight and emerged energized and committed.
- Who could forget the plays Bill Rowe, Jana Theis, Shelley Bloomberg and others created for The CVLT?
- Another highlight was our bus ride to Ann Arbor for a hearing for Ansly Damus, the Haitian asylum seeker who was held in the Geauga County jail for two years.
- Democracy Day has become an event every two years in Chagrin Falls. Many of us gathered signatures for Move to Amend; it passed with 64% of the voters.
- The 22 million dollar law suit against us for protesting in front of the Murray Energy office was probably not a highlight, but it certainly affected many of us, especially the Ciocia’s who were personally sued, and Judy and I who were deposed.
- We participated in vigils and rallies for RBG, Peace, BLM, Gun Safety, Women’s Rights, and for support of our local post office.
- For over a year we marched in Chagrin Falls against the war in Iraq, all the while pulling a wagon which held a boom box playing peace songs.
- Marching in the Blossom Time Parade with our kazoo band was such a joy. We did it several years until the weather took its toll. We even won a trophy one year.
- When George Bush came to town, we positioned ourselves on the bridge with a 15 foot long Patriots for Change banner. But secret service made us move since we were not supporting Bush.
- Every year we got together with a Labor Day picnic and a holiday party in December. Bill Rowe’s slide show presented animated musical highlights from the year. But the most elaborate event was the Halloween Party in 2014 and the holiday party where Judy married a corporate figure to commemorate the Supreme Court decision that Corporations are people.
- For four years running, we added to our coffers with a garage sale in September. Thanks to Kathy Kolcaba’s mother who offered her property for the event.
- We thank Kelly Clark for her hospitality at the farm. So many pancake breakfasts, solstice vigils and discussions about permaculture took place at the Working Well Farm.
- Our benefits for HOLA to help local immigrants establish a community center and establish legal defense were an important focus.
We had so many important speakers who challenged us with their ideas, but none were more popular than Bill Rowe and Jerry Graham. Bill could also entertain us with his original songs. We hosted our final speaker at the library in February of 2020. It was Norm Robbins, our expert on Iran through the years.
It’s time to acknowledge our successes and feel good about what we accomplished. We know that most of us will keep being advocates and will sustain the friendships we have made.
We are thankful so many gave years of time to our organization. At the risk of omitting one of you, we thank the following: Judy Kramer, Debi Thomas, Shelly Bloomfield, Lori Zaim, Jana Theis, Bill Rowe, Kelly Clark, Ed Fire, Margo Fire, Ellen Hunt, Emily Ford, Sherri Culver, Mary Mudler, Claire Rahn, Ted Buczek, Lynne Rustad, Ray DiCarlo, Fred Welty, Ray Kolcaba, Kathy Kolcaba, Lisa Ciocia, Jim Ciocia, Russ Buckbee, Diana Nazelli, Scott Baker, Becky Thomas, Kris Tesar, Elliott Berenson, Greg Coleridge, Lisa Kraemer, Lori O’Neill, Kathy Leavenworth, George LuPone, Fran Dryer, Marv Nevans, Jill, Meg and Paul Cantlay, and Jill Levine.
From your Steering Committee members – Debi Thomas (President), Lisa Ciocia, Ray DiCarlo, Judy Kramer, Lynne Rustad, Becky Thomas, Stephanie Thomas.