Introduction: El Dorado County, CA, is the spitting image of Trump Country. Here, Scott and Heather Schroeder report on political activity there. This sort of organizing is happening in areas similar to this throughout the United States.
This past Sunday Heather and I got to witness and participate true democracy in action while at the Adem vote in Jackson. This whole experience got me reflecting on the past few years of our life.
It was around two years ago when Heather and I attended our first El Dorado Progressives
meeting. Prior to attending this meeting we were very active in activist activities from labor to Occupy Oakland, Occupy Sacramento and anti Trump protest. During Occupy we participated in the Oakland General Strike and a few months later we marched in the Oakland May Day protest where we experienced our first tear gas and flash grenades. Also at this time we became members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). During Occupy Heather and I met some of the finest people we’d ever met and became very close friends and shortly after got involved with a very intense and radical union campaign. Being that we’d both been members of the “Trouble Makers Union” yes there really is a Trouble Makers Union (google it!) we had a few organizing skills that were helpful to the campaign. All these were great experiences but we spent every weekend driving from Placerville to Oakland. Politically we are very much to the left and we felt living in El Dorado county we were underground lefties and being in Oakland or the East Bay we were around liked minded people so the drive to Oakland didn’t bother us. Though I’m originally from the East Bay the Placerville area has been my home for 30 years. While it was great being apart of this all the Bay Area was no longer my community.
Shortly after the orange buffoon was (tongue in cheek) elected as president we started to hear rumors of a progressive group in Placerville!
I can’t quite remember how I heard about the first El Dorado Progressives meeting I think it might have been the farmers market, one place in El Dorado county we felt comfortable expressing our political views. Our first meeting was at Totem Coffee (one of our hang outs). I believe around 50 to 60 people showed up. Heather and I were blown away! 50 progressives in Placerville??? We be having shit now! All I could think is when does the revolution start!?
The next meeting was moved up stairs at the Cozmic Café. This time we filled that room with maybe 80 to 100 people! WTF was going on in Placerville? People politically were sounding like Heather and I, in fact one guy in a very loud voice proudly introduced himself as a retired union organizer and a “Socialist”! That caught my ear! All I could think is where have all of you been hiding all these years? I met another guy at this meeting. Kind of a straight lased looking guy, he was sort of the lead voice of the meeting. He talked about being on the school board. We got to talking after the meeting and his political views were practically identical to mine! His name was Sean Frame. The conversation that day with Sean keep Heather and I coming back to the meetings. Between meetings another person we met was Eric. He had the idea of starting a weekend Coffee Confab meeting. I believe it was theses meetings that served as the early cement that kept this group together. People attended these meetings at the Cozmic and dumped their guts about their feeling about the recent Trump elections, racism in El Dorado county, the healthcare system and many other emotional subjects. For what ever reason people really let their emotions go at these meetings! I witnessed woman cry, men cry, people display anger! I had never been to such meetings where people showed such raw emotion and others were there to console them. People at these meetings knew our country was in trouble and we were looking at fascism straight in the face! It was during these meetings that Heather and I could finally come home! We no longer had to leave our community to fight back! Our community was finally ready to fight!
I believe it was the 4th meeting of the El Dorado Progressives. The meetings were getting large enough where the meeting had to be moved to the Federated Church. That particular meeting people just kept pouring in! Over 400 people showed up to this meeting! It was standing room only! The organizers had done a fantastic job of getting speakers for this meeting. Speakers from the Muslim church in Folsom spoke. Multiple Dreamers spoke! We were all blown away with the attendance! I made the mistake of saying to Sean….”Man if we could put half of these people on a picket line we’d be having shit”! Well Sean called me out in front of 400 plus people and called me to the microphone to share my idea! I about shit myself right then and there! A public speaker I am not. Knees shaking, voice crackling I managed to make it up to the microphone and spit out my idea. To my surprise I had at least 5 people approach me after the meeting saying they liked the idea. One of those people was Sarah Saunders. That day was the birth of our EDP Worker Solidarity Network.
As the meetings went on more and more work groups started forming and taking action regarding the issues they felt passionate about. A group of very educated passionate woman took on the heath care issue. I believe they were the first to take public actions in the streets of Placerville! Many groups were formed within the EDP. Healthcare , Immigration rights, LGBT, Worker Solidarity, Young Progressives , Civil Rights, etc. Marches started happening in the streets of Placerville! MLK marches, Gun violence marches, Solidarity with Charlottesville/Heather Heyer march, Driscoll Boycott marches Even picketing the local news paper for 6 months for publishing racist opinion pieces written by staff writers. Things were happening in Placerville never seen before!
Some people have came and went within the El Dorado Progressives but a dedicated core has held strong and kept this group moving forward and alive! The most recent monumental achievement was to run a slate of progressive delegates to the Democratic party in which they did….AND WON!
Also one of the founding members of this group Sean Frame is running for congress!
We’ve come a long way in the past two years sisters and brothers! Thank you for welcoming Heather and I with open arms to this group, to this crazy ride! Thank you for bringing us home.
Scott & Heather Schroeder