Our land passes in and out of our bodies just as our bodies pass in and out of our land.
Melanie Hammet first composed music about land-use when Tony-nominated director Kenny Leon commissioned Hammet and playwright Marjorie Bradley Kellogg to create a musical about an unusual subject: an inner-city community garden. The result was “Livin’ In The Garden,” produced in 1997 at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.
Eight years later, Hammet returned to the subject---this time as an elected official. During her first term as city councilperson in Pine Lake, Georgia, Melanie was instrumental in securing a grant to hire a city planner. She then served on the steering committee that facilitated the rewrite and adoption of her city’s commercial and residential zoning. Hammet also worked to establish a year-long monthly series on land-use and wrote legislation that created a review board to help enforce best practices.
Melanie’s immersion in the lintricacies of place-making was inspiring, and in 2008, she decided to create the “soundtrack” of planning and zoning. Hammet applied for and was accepted to The Seaside Institute’s “Escape To Create” artist’s residency. The result was Edifice Complex, a collection of songs that distill urban planning concepts to human-sized basics: the impact of good street design; the importance of public space; the Ponzi-scheme structure of non-renewable planning. Most of all, these seven songs explicitly state--in the language of music---the simple and enormous impact of “the ground we walk upon” on our ability to live well together.
Since the 2011 release of Edifice Complex Hammet has performed this unusual music for planners, elected officials, architects, traffic engineers, students, and music lovers alike.
"Get ready to hear more from Hammet, who may be just what Smart Growth needs to take its message to a broader audience."
-Ben Brown, Principal, Director, client public relations
"For city officials who deal with the ‘what’ on a regular basis, Melanie’s songs are great reminders that, at the heart of the issues, are people and neighborhoods. Her soulful performance was definitely a highlight of our annual convention!"
-Al Outland, Director of Communications-Georgia Municipal Association