another season. While “autumn” evokes the romance of the shorter days, muted colors and signs of the harvest, “fall” also has its place, as leaves rain down and ripe fruit drops from vines and trees.

The equinox – time’s ephemeral balance – chases days that become shorter, darker and colder. It is time to go inside and figure out how to sustain ourselves through the winter.

It is time, perhaps, to close ranks around Evanston. In other words, it is budget season.

Things are tight; the economy has not turned around as much or as quickly as we might hope. Coffers in school districts, social-service organizations and municipalities are lean. It is reasonable to expect an increase in taxes at some level.

Not knowing what City Council will decide, we have a few suggestions, many of which are not new, to move us along as a community: volunteer here; eat, drink and shop here; hire here.

Agencies and schools will receive fewer funds from state and federal agencies. Evanston Township High School is anticipating a cut in state and federal funds it used for some programs. Most social-service organizations have already taken a big cut in the funds they traditionally received from the state.

But the fact that money is tight is tight does not mean that needs have subsided. It means only that schools and social-service agencies are asked to do more with less. This is a good time to make a commitment – long-term, if possible – to volunteer to help Evanston residents.

Many service businesses have seen a slowdown. In addition, increased unemployment puts pressure on families. Hiring locally can help a lot.

Further, where there is a bit of discretionary spending to be had, consider the shops, cultural offerings, services and watering spots of Evanston.

As a home-rule community, Evanston has its own tax (imposed already to the maximum level) on certain goods and services. The more money we spend here, the more sales-tax revenue the City receives – both in home-rule sales tax revenues and in per-capita reimbursements from the state.

Fortunately, we do not think that any of these suggestions is painful. Evanston has many wonderful organizations, institutions, businesses and services, offerings whose value can only be enhanced by community contributions.