Good Things

Good Things

One good thing is that summer is so close you can taste it. Here are a few more, in no particular order.

1. If you don’t yet know that there’s a coordinated, multi-pronged, boots-on-the-ground movement to clean up our lakes, you do now. Called “Renew the Blue,” it’s an open invitation to every single Dane Countian to get engaged as a sign of solidarity and support. If you’re not interested in donating money, you don’t have to. If you’re not interested in donating time, you don’t have to. But I’ll bet you ten bucks there’s something you’re already doing that you can do more of; I’ll bet you another ten bucks there’s something you’re doing right now that you can do less of. For example, I don’t rake my leaves anymore; instead I mow them, which adds nutrients to my lawn and improves the soil. Less is more. And then on my to-do list is joining the citizen water quality monitoring project and learning how to test the lakes myself, which supplements the good work our government units are doing in keeping track of the health of our lakes. This is something my daughter and I can do together. Read more about all this, plus all the other fun stuff happening in and around the water in the June issue of the magazine.

2. The Harmony Bar and Grill is by all accounts an east-side institution. Most everybody in town’s heard of the joint even if they’ve never patronized it. And if they don’t know the Harmony at all, well, anyone will tell you it’s a Madison original they should cross off their bucket list. Owner Keith Daniels has decided to hang up his bar towel (but not his Sheepshead game) and call it a career. Come August a guy named Brad Czachor will take over. Why is this a good thing? Because I happen to know first-hand that Brad plans to follow in Keith’s footsteps as a neighborhood steward of good times and great causes. Keith and Brad share the same values—they want to make an honest living, serve up great food, drink and live music, and give back to their community. The latter is a value shared by the multitude of businesses across the city that donate their space, time and products to nonprofits, sports and rec leagues, political campaigns and more. And I’m grateful that Brad, who also happens to be my husband, will be doing the same. I’m also digging the ready access to the crowd-favorite walnut burger.

3. Summer reading: The Progressive, a national magazine headquartered in Madison for more than a century, has been mining its vast archives recently. The result is a “Hidden History” series of e-books—just $4.99 each—at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Visit for links to the first two titles: Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall, which includes original works by Jane Addams, Belle Case La Follette and James Baldwin, and Preserving Our Home on Earth—A Century of Environmental Writing, with pieces by Ralph Nader and the late, great Gaylord Nelson, among many others.

Economist and Rebecca Ryan has written her second book, ReGENERATION, a post-recession pep talk for, as she writes in her Foreword, “the players—the change agents, emerging professionals, wise elders, social entrepreneurs and those who are hell bent on helping us reinvent America.” Using nature’s four distinct seasons as both metaphor and inspiration, ReGENERATION explores what it will take to make our country work better for more people. It’s smart, funny, insightful and important. I love the book so much I’ve read it seven times … as her editor. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of the team that traveled on this journey with Rebecca, one that culminated with a Kickstarter campaign to help cover publishing costs that far exceeded its goal. (Read more about crowdfunding campaigns ). Order the book at

Just a few good things to share. Happy summer.

Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine.

Find more of her columns .