One of the descriptors that has continued to come up as we grapple with church planting in Worcester is “blue collar.” I’ve been told by different people in a variety of settings that Worcester is a blue collar town and when I try to pin down what is meant, that is when the issue gets murky. When I hear blue collar I assume that means men doing manual labor. Here were the sticking points that I came upon….
-A pastor in the area describes his close friend as blue collar though he is an architect with his own firm.
-An article in an alternative paper in Worcester talked about participation in hurling, a traditional Irish sport. One of the team members said their team reflected the spirit of Worcester and then went on to described them as blue collar guys from all the schools [colleges/universities] in the area.
-The major employers in Worcester – Medical Centers, colleges, hospitals, insurance, and Polar Beverages – are disproportionally white collar.
My guess, based upon various conversations, is that Worcester is blue collar in its self perception and ethos. There is a rich legacy of manufacturing and industry in Worcester and people here hold onto the past. There is also a grittiness to Worcester and “blue collar” might be the best way to convey it. As I figure out more, I’ll be sure to pass a clearer picture along.