In chaos there is order. We don’t know what the order is, but the so-called ‘chaos’ knows. A forest knows how roots, leaves, ants or elephants behave. A person knows the exact location of the things in their room (and where to place something new). A city knows how its dwellers live. And a community knows what makes its members move.
The knowing is intrinsic and stems from an order – that which guides all the elements of the ecosystem to take (or not take) action in particular situations. This order that administers the smooth running of the system is formed by its own members to facilitate growth and well-being. While the order of nature is understood by its beings without a word, human-led ecosystems often have the order defined in writing, as that is the nature of being human. This is translated in the form of by-laws.
What, Where, Who, Why & How of By-laws
What are By-laws?
By-laws are a set of rules/regulations formulated by a group of people to manage themselves in a way that works in favour of the group’s well-being. Usually, by-laws are overlooked by a higher (or neutral) authority to ensure fairness and eliminate bias. They are different from the more general ‘laws’ in that the rules are restricted to members of the group and/or geographical confines. While laws are formulated by social institutions and must be followed by all for moral well-being, by-laws primarily guide the operation and maintenance of a system among other things.
Some examples of by-laws are – cities’ building regulations, health and safety codes, by-laws of cooperative societies, codes of conduct and regulations in private/public organisations, by-laws of individual gram panchayats, regulations for energy consumption, etc.
Where are By-laws Applicable?
By-laws are applicable to group organisations of all various scales – business corporations, municipalities, neighbourhood associations, societies, communities, collectives and similar groups of people who have come together for a common purpose and intend to work together to achieve it.
Who Makes the By-laws?
They are made by the members of the group and all involved parties, for the group, and are finalised upon a series of reviews and revisions by members and/or authorities who overlook the regulation.
How are By-laws Formulated?
Members can refer to the existing by-laws of states, regions, societies and similar organisations for preparing a draft. They are then confirmed upon further inputs and reviews from everyone involved. In addition, the group can consult credible personnel to streamline their by-laws.
Why are By-laws Important?
History is proof that without a certain degree of law and order, societies can crumble. Similarly, without rules, regulations, order and structure, organisations may not achieve what they set out to do. Hence by-laws are important to
- Help us carry out our pursuits in an orderly manner
- Get all members on the same page
- Safeguard the interests and aspirations of the community
- Ensure all activities align with the community’s goals
- Maintain impartiality and fairness in the system
- Manage disputes
- Make collective decisions
What is the Basis for Defining the By-laws of a Community?
While some regulations like codes of conduct and logical order of events are universally applicable across different groups, the majority of them differ from community to community. By-laws are defined by the characteristics of the community such as its purpose, vision socio-economic and geographical context, activities in plan, the culture of the group and collective identity.
What Components Make Up the By-laws?
Depending on the defining characteristics of the group, the contents of the by-laws are pinned down, such as
- Qualification of membership
- Extent of the community and its landscape
- Core roles and responsibilities of all the parties involved
- Design procedures
- Timelines of activities as per a defined masterplan
- Financial management methods
- Process of dispute resolution
The one-size-fits-all approach is can be counter-productive, unfair and stressful for the group. Each community is unique and so are its by-laws. At Beforest, each forest-friendly Collective is made of unique individuals from different walks of life who have come together to practice and propagate their love for nature. We enable the formation of the by-laws of each Collective and ensure the smooth functioning of activities at each, building ecosystems that continue to support the Collective’s aspirations.
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