An issue of Inc. always seems a bit more special to me when it includes a feature by Bo Burlingham. A contributor for more than two decades, Bo knows our subject matter and audience as well as any journalist working today. And that made him the ideal choice to explore the seemingly contradictory business world of Ani DiFranco, musician/CEO, anticorporate rebel/business owner, free spirit/real estate developer. For years, DiFranco has rejected interview requests from business publications because she believed they wouldn't understand her unordinary mission. When Bo came calling, though, she jumped. Why? Because she saw that Inc. isn't just about business but also about values. "This isn't a story about money," says a DiFranco spokesperson. "It's about creating something from the heart." The same could be said of Bo's work for Inc.

Contributors

Before joining Inc. as a staff writer, Bobbie Gossage wrote for Worth magazine, where she compiled an annual list of the 250 richest towns in America, based on residential real estate prices. This month, she explores commercial real estate issues, from crafting a great lease to repurposing space (page 69). Gossage was impressed by the industrial design firm that moved into a former sewage treatment facility. Given a choice, she would move Inc.'s offices into the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Egyptian room.

David J. Dent is the author of In Search of Black America, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2000. He has also written for The New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today, Savoy, Worth, Details, and The Washington Post. For Inc. this month, Dent illustrates the pitfalls and advantages business owners face when trying to make political connections (page 29) and provides ethical guidelines for entrepreneurs who wish to proceed at their own risk. Dent is also an associate professor of journalism at New York University.

Researching this month's feature story about Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust, a family business that has remained small and successful for more than a century (page 84), Ed Welles traveled to the bank's headquarters in Alexandria, Va.'s Old Town, just down the street from George Washington's home, Mount Vernon. Welles was a senior feature writer with Inc. for more than 13 years. He has also written for Business 2.0, Preservation, and The Boston Globe Magazine.

Editor-at-large Bo Burlingham, who joined Inc. in 1983, recently visited Righteous Babe, the Buffalo record label founded by folk rocker-CEO Ani DiFranco. In this issue, Burlingham reveals how social integrity and quick-thinking manager Scot Fisher have helped make the label far more than a one-hit wonder (page 96). Prior to his career in journalism, Burlingham managed a band, called the Bodysnatchers, that once opened for blues legend Muddy Waters. "Ani has the same electrifying energy," says Burlingham, who's working on a book about great companies that don't necessarily want to be big, due out in 2005.

Amy Gunderson writes this month about how small businesses are increasingly being targeted by unions (page 19). "Because organized labor groups are often seen as the big bad wolf," says Gunderson, a former Dow Jones employee who once belonged to a union (the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees Local 1096), "the willingness of some entrepreneurs to embrace them and really see how unionizing could work in their favor impressed me." Gunderson is a graduate of Boston College and the French Culinary Institute. Her writing has appeared in SmartMoney, where she was a staff reporter, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, and The New York Times.