Thirteen stripes, 13 sponsors — selling out the American flag

“A Worcester company has become the 13th and final firm whose name will appear on the New Flag of the United States of America. For $2 trillion, D&A Cybernetics purchased the rights to place its moniker and logo within the red bottom stripe of the flag.”

Worcester scofflaws find thrills — and trouble — with invisible cloaks

Wondering what the future could hold for wearable technology? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so-distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, Aug. 11, 2047 — All 15-year-old Varun Ranganathan wanted for Christmas was an invisibility cloak like the one his friends were getting.
He had no idea how much trouble it would cause.
Mr. Ranganathan was among a large group of teenagers who, in the words of Worcester Police Department spokeswoman Kendra Jibrell, “terrorized” the Worcester Independence Day Parade last month. The teens ran through crowds, jostled spectators, threw punches, vandalized floats, and filched purses and valuables, while shrouded in invisible cloaks.

The ruckus forced the Worcester Police Department to shut down the parade just 30 minutes after the 11 a.m. start time.

Detectives at first had no leads – there were lots of angles taken from citizens’ cellphones, business surveillance cameras and police drones, but none of the footage showed the invisible perpetrators.

“Our detectives had a theory there was a specific teenager, not unknown to us, who was among the hooligans,” Officer Jibrell said. “Then we looked up his parents’ online purchase history and found they had bought one of these — what the kids call ‘invisible cloaks’ — right around Christmastime.

More What if … Worcester: Gardens and gargoyles: Dilapidated churches grow into urban farms

Baby in a blink: UMass technology, not available in the U.S., eases childbearing

Wondering what the future could hold for human pregnancy and UMass Medical innovation? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so-distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, Oct. 4, 2037 — When Kelly Kapinow learned she was six weeks pregnant with her third child, “joy” wasn’t the word that came to mind. Her previous pregnancies had been extremely difficult – both times she was ordered on bedrest for the final eight weeks. Now, her career as an actor and dancer in Worcester is picking up. “I’m just starting to make money — good money — doing what I love,” the 28-year-old single mother said during an interview at her rented apartment on Sever Street. “I can’t face being sidelined again.”

“Going for months without an income just isn’t fair,” she says. “Listen — I love being a mother and I love my boys more than anything. But I’m also a performing artist. If I’m not dancing, I’m not getting paid. And there’s no way I could try a bell kick in my third trimester.”

Last time in What if … Worcester: Gardens and gargoyles: Dilapidated churches grow into urban farms

But a fellow dancer told Kapinow of a popular new procedure in her home country of Romania, called Accelerated Fetal Growth Therapy, or AFGT.

Gardens and gargoyles: Dilapidated churches grow into urban farms

Wondering what the future could hold for one of the city’s most beloved church buildings? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, June 9, 2019 – Within the city of Worcester there are 12 former church buildings that are facing the wrecking ball. Three of these buildings date back to the 1880s. They are cherished, sacred spaces where generations of parishioners married, baptized children, and said their goodbyes to loved ones. But in the last few decades, congregations of every faith have thinned out. While a giant extravagant property was once a symbol of reverence and success for a parish, now it’s become maintenance headaches for cash-strapped finance committees.

Some congregations sought to let go of the buildings, but developers know it’s daunting to repurpose thick cement walls, redesign a cavernous interior, and maintain the cultural and historical legacy.

Some church buildings were sold to the highest bidder, anyway, to await uncertain futures. With uninterested new owners and a minimum of maintenance, the once-mighty cornerstones of communities now decay and molder until they’re no longer safe to keep standing.

But a local company called Altar2Table is on a preservation campaign to purchase the properties and fix them up for what once would have been considered a most unlikely use: urban farms.

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Altar2Table’s first purchase was Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Mulberry Street, which was officially closed by the Diocese of Worcester in 2016. After a year of renovations, the farm commenced operations in January 2019 and yielded its first harvest in April.

Immigrants thrive as Worcester bucks nationwide labor crisis

Author BJ Hill takes us on a fantastic, fictional voyage into the possibilities of a not-too-distant tomorrow in the latest installment of What if … Worcester, the Sun’s serial glimpse into the future.

Worcester’s Long View Pays Off

Thanks to progressive immigration policies, Worcester is dodging a national labor shortage that is crippling similar cities.
WORCESTER, Feb. 19, 2034 — Friday, Feb. 24, will be Ron Gopinski’s 70th birthday. It will also be his last day of work at the Abbott-UMass Memorial Medical Center. After 32 years as an accounts representative in the purchasing department, Gopinski is enjoying the transition to retired life. For Abbott-UMass, his retirement marks a transition of a historical sort, as Gopinski is the hospital’s last full-time employee from the Baby Boomer generation.

Baby Boomers are defined as those born in the post-World War II years between 1946 and 1964. The generation comprised the largest percentage of the population, and the workforce, between approximately 1970 to 2025. But beginning in 2011, when the first of the Boomers turned 65 and began to retire, human resource departments around the country noticed a worrying trend: There were fewer qualified applicants applying for their jobs.

It wasn’t a matter of wages or education, they found, but rather the simple fact that there were less people from the succeeding generations, the Gen Xers and the Millennials, in the labor pool.

The effect has throttled companies of all sizes as they compete to find candidates to take their openings. But Worcester employers — notably the AbbVie-LakePharma companies and Coghlin GreenPower — enjoy a competitive advantage created by the city’s progressive views toward immigration earlier this century.

Martian returns home: Native-born astronaut spent 185 days on Red Planet

WORCESTER, July 20, 2069 — Worcester’s first native-born astronaut was welcomed back to her hometown yesterday with a parade and the Key to the City. Dr. Riham Ahmadi, a veterinarian, was crew member on the recent Ares 11 mission, which returned from Mars after a 22-month voyage.

The parade, featuring Unum-sponsored hovercrafts and antique internal-combustion-engined cars from the late 2010s, left the campus of WPI on Salisbury Street, and proceeded south on Main Street to City Hall.

“This is truly a great day for the city of Worcester,” said Massachusetts Gov. Amy Collins during a speech on the steps facing City Hall/Commerce Bank Plaza. “As our nation’s space program moves forward, Dr. Riham Ahmadi adds her name to the list of astronauts who light our way with their courage and scientific integrity.”

As the governor, Congressman Paul Tyson-Burgess, family members, and spectators looked on, third-term Mayor Shanique DeTorres presented Dr. Ahmadi the Petty Memorial Key to the City.

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