Massachusetts' 5th Worcester house district comprises 11 mostly rural towns in west-central Massachusetts, between the city of Worcester and the Quabbin Reservoir. It includes towns in:
The Quabaog Valley -- Brookfield, North Brookfield, East Brookfield, West Brookfield, three of the four precincts of Spencer, and one precinct of Ware;
The East Quabbin Region -- Barre, Hubbardston, Oakham, New Braintree, and Hardwick.
A map of the district can be seen here: <https://statisticalatlas.com/state-lower-legislative-district/Massachusetts/5th-Worcester-District/Overview>
Our region is steeped in centuries of history, from its Native American roots through the American Revolution and the industrial age; when I teach American history, I can mention the engagements of King Philip's War and Shays' Rebellion that took place just up the road from my home. Although less famous than the Cape or the Berkshires, central Massachusetts also has all of the beauty of New England town greens linked and rural roads running through orchards and horse pastures.
Central Massachusetts has also been an industrial hotbed for two hundred years, with cloth mills, foundries, and wire factories springing up along the streams and rivers in the 19th century. My hometown, North Brookfield, was a capital of shoe manufacturing, with the Batcheller plant (also called the "Big Shop") holding for a time the title of the largest shoe factory on Earth. The Quaboag and Quabbin regions in the early 1900s were full of vibrant towns with bustling theaters, hotels, and social clubs, all connected by train lines and streetcars. French Canadian, Polish, Irish, Italian, and Swedish immigrants built neighborhoods, churches, and businesses, and have lately been followed by Vietnamese and Latin Americans.
In the past fifty years, central Massachusetts has faced some difficult changes, as manufacturing moves overseas and social services like nearby hospitals diminish. In some towns, local businesses and civic institutions struggle to carry on as many young people leave after high school, and town budgets are squeezed by the expense of keeping rural schools open, and like so much of rural America, our area has been hit by the opioid crisis.
Nonetheless, many local businesses, including small manufacturing, remain strong, and new light industries such as brewing and clean energy are growing. With proper investment in transport, rural schools, and healthcare, and appreciation for our history and social fabric, rural central Massachusetts can again be a powerhouse of the Commonwealth.