A Bottom-Up Revolution in York, Pennsylvania


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Walk through York, Pennsylvania, and you’ll find several elements of a strong town, including a historic downtown where residents gather and a local government investing in its homegrown entrepreneurs.

But, as we see repeated in cities and towns across the country, you’ll also find low-income neighborhoods that receive minimal investment. 

You’ve seen it before, perhaps in your own community: the busted sidewalks; the broken street lights; the lack of neighborhood services.

This lack of investment isn’t a symptom of a neighborhood that doesn’t care about its place; instead, it’s the result of local governments failing to see the value of poor neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods that, I kid you not, often generate more tax revenue per acre compared to newer, more affluent neighborhoods. 

That’s why, in 2017, York resident and this episode’s guest Salvador “Sal” Galdamez created York XL: a non-profit organization that brings people together to imagine and then passionately create empowered neighborhoods.

Attend a York XL event and you’ll find, as we like to call it at Strong Towns, a bottom-up revolution: a revolution that embraces the priorities of the neighborhoods in which they work and use those priorities to make meaningful investments.

You’ll find neighbors turning once neglected spaces into places to gather. You’ll find neighbors sharing their ideas to improve their street. And, as Sal shares jokingly, you’ll find a once-uninterested neighbor (joyfully) allowing small children to paint rainbows on his arm during a York XL event.

Sal and his colleagues at York XL understand that all neighborhoods need a bottom-up approach to investment, and, in this episode shares how you can lead a revolution in your own city or town, including how to share your vision with the neighborhoods in which you work, how to build trust with neighbors, and how to ensure your investment includes everyone in the neighborhood.