Why move to Randolph Part 4: Diversity

Diversity

Diversity is another feature that leads people to move to Randolph.  It is also a reason cited by some to explain why they stay in Randolph, and for others why they left.  Diversity is a rare feature among Boston suburbs, so it could have a strong impact on Randolph’s competitiveness as a community of choice.  Whether it is an advantage or a detriment depends upon the target market’s interpretation of diversity as well as the manner in which it is presented to them.

Several of my interviewees initially chose to move to Randolph specifically for its racial and ethnic diversity.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jewish families chose Randolph because of its openness to them and its position at the time as an up and coming Jewish community.  Later on, people of color especially blacks found Randolph was more accepting and open to their families than were other Boston suburbs.  One Vietnamese-American highlighted Randolph’s uniqueness in this respect by saying that Randolph is “smaller than other diverse places, but more diverse than other small places”

Randolph’s diversity transforms its residents.  More interviewees cited diversity as a reason they enjoy living in Randolph and plan to stay than did those who say they initially moved to Randolph because of its diversity.  Nearly all interviewees who graduated from Randolph High School talked at length about the positive impact that Randolph’s diversity had upon them and the advantages they discovered upon entering higher education and the working world.

The advantages of diversity have the potential to be marketed to the cohort of Boston metropolitan area residents who value them.  Some of these people belong to ethnic groups that are more present in Randolph than in other communities and would like to live near their co-ethnics and their accompanying restaurants and shops.  Another potential market however are the educated young professionals who value exposure to other cultures and the advantages of cosmopolitan living.  Many of these people currently choose to live in Cambridge, Somerville, the South End, and Jamaica Plain.  Often, these young professionals choose to move to more suburban settings after having children.  Popular communities among this cohort include Arlington, Waltham, and Roslindale.  These neighborhoods are in close proximity to the urban neighborhoods in which this market currently lives.  They are more familiar to them.  Randolph could market its diversity to these people to vie to be their top choice suburb.  Of course, the quality of schools and other factors will impact Randolph’s competitiveness to this market.

Diversity is a delicate balance for a community to maintain.  To remain diverse, Randolph must continue to attract the middle class White and Asian populations more likely to move to other suburbs while at the same time remaining welcoming and attractive to Blacks and Latinos as well as working class and lower income people of all ethnic groups.  Diversity is endangered in other areas, such as Somerville, because the economic forces of gentrification are making those places less accessible to working and lower class people. Randolph’s diverse housing stock, its transportation access, and its distance from Boston’s universities make gentrification unlikely.  Conversely, struggling cities like Lawrence become less diverse as they become dominated by one or two ethnic groups.  Randolph’s diversity may come to an end if Randolph is no longer a community of choice.

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