Dream Life Chapter 10: “Dissemination of Toilet”

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 Having completed the toilet for the squire’s house on the third of June, the plan was made to spread the toilet to the village.


 First of all, as far as materials were concerned, the inventory of the woodworker Craig’s workshop seemed to be enough for about ten outhouses.


 Next, how many toilets should be built and at what rate?


 I was once involved in the rebuilding of a machine shop. According to what I heard at that time, one toilet for every 30 people should be enough. Since that was a factory project, let’s consider how many toilets would be needed with average homes in mind.



(If this were true, one per household would be necessary, but since it would be a shared toilet, a little less would be fine. If so, one per ten people should be enough…) (Zack)



 Since it was not possible to spread the system throughout the village all at once, a model district was determined and all ten buildings were to be distributed there.


 As for the model district, we were going to propose that it be in the center of the village, in the middle of the four hills, where Gordon’s house, the figurehead of the village, is located.



(It would be easier to spread the idea if we could draw in the central figure, and since it is a meeting place, it would be easy for the villagers to see the model district. There’s also a tavern, which is just right to get the villagers’ attention. Plus, if we put it somewhere else, Gordon may take offense. If we build one here first, he can make it more visible. It’s best to start here and let Gordon pull others in.) (Zack)



 I went to my father with a proposal to that effect.


 He agreed.


 My father called Gordon to explain the purpose of the project and ordered Nicholas to survey the site and build the toilet.



 The next day, Gordon came to the mansion in response to my father’s call.


 Unfortunately, or perhaps it was only natural, I, as a child, was not able to participate in the discussion.


 My father told me that Gordon did not understand the purpose of the toilet and was a bit puzzled. However, he said that he was grateful for the facility, which was built by the Lord himself, and that he would be able to use it. He also promised to cooperate fully in making the residents aware of sanitary management.


 I decided to leave the matter to Nicholas and consider other matters.



(The outhouses seem to be going well. We can start developing a hand pump for the well and some soap, and if we can afford it, we can add a sewage system, and the village environment will be somewhat improved. After that, it’s time to make specialty products. Or rather, I’ll let my hobby, nay, my dream, come true. Fufufu…) (Zack)



 At the time, I thought that was a simple and easy thing to do. I thought I had already succeeded.



 When we began construction of the toilet in early June, there were no problems, and Nicholas only reported that construction was progressing smoothly.


 On the contrary, the villagers also found time to help, and the ten latrines were completed more than ten days earlier than the originally planned one-month construction period.



 I don’t deny that I was caught off guard by the fact that things were going so well.


 As the saying goes, “All is well that ends well,” and although the construction went well, the “use” of the toilets afterward did not go so well.


 I was responsible for not following up on the project, but I assumed it was a complete success until I received a report from Nicholas in early July, about a month later.



“It’s been about ten days now, and I don’t see it being used very often.” (Nicholas)



 Apologetically, Nicholas informed me that he was sorry.


 I couldn’t believe why they weren’t using it, so I asked, “Why?”



“I checked with Gordon, but he didn’t seem to get the point. All he said was that he was telling people to use it, but they weren’t using it.” (Nicholas)


(Why? Do you mean they’d rather be around their old smelly and dirty outhouse?) (Zack)



 I struggle to get my head around the idea.



(Why don’t they use it? Wouldn’t they normally use it? …normally? Is my “normal” different from the villagers’ common sense?) (Zack)


“I’d like to hear what Nicholas has to say about it. Anything.” (Nicholas)



 Nicholas looked a little apologetic.



“Perhaps it is “troublesome”. We thought it was troublesome at first, too… but it was the lord’s order…” (Nicholas)



 Then, perhaps noticing my stare, he hastily adds.



“Yes, well, it is much more comfortable now. There’s no smell, and it’s even fine if it rains… Promises it is true.” (Nicholas)



 I hear those words and realize that I had forgotten the most basic of basics.



(I didn’t listen to the client’s opinion at all… This time, isn’t everyone who uses a product a client? I was working only with my own feelings in mind…I was the one who had taught my juniors that a designer who doesn’t listen to the client’s opinion is the worst…) (Zack)



 I realized I was committing a big mistake.


 My senses are those of a modern Japanese, not one of this world.


 When people change an existing system, no matter how beneficial it is, you can’t get it changed easily. People are inevitably conservative and habitual creatures. So, I had to think about how to get people to use the system, but I went ahead with my own preconceptions.



(Well, what shall we do? I need to identify areas for improvement. Or we could take a survey.) (Zack)



 I ordered Nicholas to interview the villagers.



“I want you to ask why the villagers don’t use it. Any opinion is fine, and nobody will be punished for saying their opinion…” (Zack)



 Then I reconsider that my idea is not ideal.



“No. Reward those who give their opinions, even if it’s only a small amount. This is my request to Father.” (Zack)



 I went to my father with Nicholas and reported that the toilet system was not doing well in promoting toilets. I then broach the subject that I would like to get the opinions of the users in order to come up with a plan for improvement.



“I want to hear their honest opinions. To that end, I would like to offer a reward of 10 (e) Eere (=100 yen) to anyone who expresses any opinion. I’m requesting your permission and support.” (Zack)


“I don’t need to offer a reward, but Nicholas will answer your question if you ask him.” (Matt)



 My father can’t seem to understand why I would waste my money on unnecessary expenses.



“Perhaps it would only lead to bland opinions. For example, if we offer them a let’s say… reward, they will try to give us opinions that sound good to our ears, but if they are told that we will pay for bad opinions, they will try to give us as many opinions as possible. That’s where the clues for improvement are.” (Zack)



 As I shook my small fist and argued my case, my father, perhaps overcome by the force of my argument, approved the budget of 50 (C) Crona approximately 50 yen. [T/N: I think the author is basing his money on the Swedish öre and krona since they sound closest to what the author wrote.]



“If it costs too much money in the future, I will reconsider this matter, you understand? Nicholas, I’m sorry, but please indulge him a little longer.” (Matt)



 My father suddenly has the look of a lord, and after glaring at me, he hands the bag of money to Nicholas who is behind me.



 After we leave my father’s office, I explain to Nicholas what to do when he asked questions.



“I want you and Kate–Nicholas’ wife–to split up and listen to me. Nicholas will ask the men, and Kate will ask the women. The important thing to remember when listening is that no matter what your opinion is, no matter how unhelpful it may be, you must hear it through to the end. Always give them money for their opinions. And I want you to report your opinions as verbatim as possible. I’m sure you’ll be fine, but please don’t brandish the idea of it being the lord’s orders.” (Zack)



 He didn’t seem quite convinced, but he said he would follow my orders and headed for the village.



(Well, I pray I could pick up a decent “voice” with this…) (Zack)



 Two evenings later, Nicholas and Kate both came to me with a stack of papers.



“We got a lot of feedback. The results of the hearing those are written here. I’ve grouped those with similar opinions.” (Nicholas)



 I flip through the contents on a piece of paper.


 There were three main opinions.


 The first was that it was often not available in the morning, so they couldn’t use it.


 The second was that it was a hassle to carry the accumulated waste, so they tried to avoid using it as much as possible.


 Third, it is a hassle to go to the bathroom in the first place.


 These three factors accounted for more than half of the total.


 Other opinions expressed by women were that they were often open (or slightly ajar) and that they could not make it in time if they took their children with them.



 The first is the issue of numbers.


 There are 10 outhouses in every 20 households, so it is around 1 in 12 to 13 people. This may have been too few. The only way to find the optimum ratio is to increase the number a little more.


 The woman’s comment that the door was “open” could be dealt with by putting a simple lock on the door, and the children could be dealt with by increasing the number and usage of something like a chamber pot.



 The problem is the second and the third. Those problems are quite troublesome.


 Unless we come up with some countermeasures, it will not spread.


 How can we most effectively spread the use of this technology?


 If composting is successful, the incentive to throw away valuable fertilizer will work to solve this problem, but at this stage, we don’t even know if composting will be successful, and we have to wait until the harvest season after spreading the compost on the fields to see the effects of the compost.



(Should I enforce it here? Or give another incentive? Create another set of outhouses and offer a reward for the most successful composting… No. That would cost too much in the long term.) (Zack)



 As I continued my thinking, a little flash of inspiration came to me.



(I guess we’ll have to strengthen the leadership role in the beginning. Gordon would be dissatisfied with such a move, so I would give him some kind of position, like an honorary position. For example, he could be a district head or a community leader. Until now, a “figurehead” position did not have the endorsement of the lord. (If he has the endorsement of the lord, it will stimulate his self-worth, and he will take our request seriously.) (Zack)



 I will continue to think about it further.



(Better yet, if we divide the village into several wards and make them into an administrative unit, we can make four wards by dividing the village into 20 units, since there are several to 10 houses clustered together within livable places. If each ward is headed by a community leader, it would be easier to manage. Let’s talk to Father about this.) (Zack)



 When I go to my father for advice, he gives me a hard stare.



“Is it necessary to divide this small village into sections? Wouldn’t a bad division create some sort of factions between residences?”



 I felt like I had hit a blind spot.



“I had to admit that I had some concerns about that, but I thought that originally we were only neighbors. If that’s the case, I don’t see it being much of a problem.” (ZAck)



 My father put a hold on giving me the position of Mayor and ordered me to think of something else to name it.



“Not mayor… Do you have a better name?” (Matt)


“How about a civil officer? With the role of looking after people’s lives?” (Zack)


“Civil officer, huh? …how are they compensated?” (Matt)


“How about an honorary position? Then a banquet once or twice a year with all the civil officials at the mansion?” (Zack)


“I see. That would not cost much money, and those who cannot afford it would not want to do it. On the other hand, those who want the honor may want to do it… I’ll ask Gordon about it. But make sure he knows what he’s responsible for.” (Matt)



 By “civil officer” I am thinking of a simplified version of the Civilian Welfare Commissioner we have in Japan.


 I don’t know much about civil service workers, so it would have to be a simplified version, but if the job is to understand the living conditions of the residents and help improve them, then naturally, improving the toilets would be part of the job.


 I prepared a simple memo and handed it to my father.



 It would be a few more months before the toilets were ready for widespread use.


 I guess I still have to monitor the situation from time to time, but I also think that if I follow up properly, I can make it work.


 I said a few words of thanks to Nicholas and Kate and began to think about my next project.



 Yes, I forgot to mention that my grandfather’s training continued while I was improving the toilet.


 Every day, I would do 20 minutes of training before breakfast, and in the morning I would join my older sibling for a training session. Then, in the evening, I would do another 20 minutes of training before going home for dinner.



 Even though it had been more than half a month since I started training, I was only allowed to do a single routine.


 Dan, who had started training with us again, seemed to be frustrated that Mel and I were leaving him behind, so he began to take the exercises more seriously.



 Then, on June 20th, the twenty-fifth day after we started training.


 I became a “Swordsman”.



A/N: I have two chapters dedicated to Toilet Reform. I regret it may be a little bit.

(I probably haven’t finished it though?)

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