The task of our second week of class was to create bricks out of mud and straw, in the way that humans once did and still do around the world. After the somewhat dismal results of our previous week, I looked forward to trying something that was perhaps more attainable for us unskilled modern day homo sapiens.

I mean, the bricks seemed straight forward enough; all we had to do was make mud into bricks, right? In actuality, however, there were many more steps and pieces involved. First, we had to dig trenches in which to mix the mud, while at the same time someone had to be designing and building the molds for our bricks, and someone else had to be preparing the bed of straw for the final bricks to dry upon. The easiest way to accomplish all of these steps, it seemed, was to separate off into smaller groups. What I found, however, was that though we were technically separated, many people moved between groups thereby enabling everyone to do a of everything. For instance, I helped lay the straw bed, then went and took a shift digging the pits and initially mixing mud.

As the pieces began to fall into place, the level of teamwork only continued to rise. A system was developed so that some people were finishing the molds, some were in charge of mixing mud with their feet, others controlled the ratio of mud to water to straw, and yet others of us carefully packed the mud into our molds. Slowly but surely, we turned out a total of twelve stamped mud bricks, laying them out carefully to dry in the sun. The overall theme was one of teamwork and cooperation throughout the day, which led to the success of our brick-making, and made it clear that though civilization could not have happened without specialization, it also could not have happened without cooperation.

~Storm Nylen

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