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But change will not come overnight, according to Goetz.
“There’s always a lag between the time when new populations enter communities and settle, and a full infrastructure is created. Because, partly that’s created by the community itself. So, there’s always this period of adjustment and change,” he said.
Washington County’s largest city is taking steps to accommodate expected demographic growth and help shatter perceptions of suburbia as inhospitable to nonwhites. Officials said they are working with the Community Foundation’s Citizens’ Academy to help promote cross-cultural understanding. And the city eased its zoning laws to make it easier for religious organizations to build places of worship.
Irfan Ali, a member of the Planning Commission, said that, after looking at other suburban areas, he moved his family to Woodbury to be closer to his wife’s job in St. Paul. “It was near a city. It just felt more fresh and at that time there was a lot of diversity,” said Ali, who is active in the Islamic Society of Woodbury.
“We have a place of worship for our community to meet. That really keeps us motivated, because it’s a place where our kids can meet other kids,” Ali said.
“Our needs are pretty basic: It’s really about being able to have a good place to grow. You know, what kind of experience are our kids going to have in growing up? And Woodbury, at least so far, has that.”
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064