It has been hard, for some reason, to write a cover letter for the attached two articles because, well, they make me mad. I did write one letter but my colleagues here advised against actually sending it to you.

It's for my own good, I suppose.

Anyway without further ado, I send to you one article about the Bush Administration's proposed federal budget and another article about taxes. They are a matched pair that urge you to individual and collective action. We all are well served by reading each of these very carefully for the social and political trends they trace.

The Bush Budget Disaster, by Rick Cohen

Responding to the "Shrink, Shift, and Shaft" Tax Cut Agenda, by Chuck Collins

Now, every time I send you this kind of material, I'll always get a couple of letters from you, our treasured readers, asking why the Nonprofit Quarterly feels driven to print commentary on politics. Someone actually once told me to stick to my knitting.

But, readers you know as well as I that if we don't knit the shaping of the political environment into our work, we're simply unbearably naïve.

I have two suggestions for the month:

* take the time as a staff to talk about your political environment. A good way to start this out is to have a 30 minute whole staff brainstorming session where everyone just shouts out political trends that you believe will affect your work over the next five years. This should be a very energizing event. Then give people markers and ask them to place three marks total on those issues that they would like to discuss. Look at what gets the most marks and schedule times for discussion. Think about the implications of each issue on your constituency and your work and develop an action plan.

* take a political/policy concern to your board of directors. Think about who you, as an organization, can influence and how. Be strategic, be wise but, above all, be active!

Your friend (and brand new grandma! My granddaughter's name is Nina Kate and she gloriously entered this world on March 1st at a whopping 10 lbs 3 oz.)