Pari Center for New Learning

The philosophy and educational approach of the center. 
What people have said about Pari and the Center. 

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What Visitors Have Said About Pari

I was a participant in the meeting "The Future of the Academy", held in Pari in September 2000. The village of Pari and the Center provides a unique setting for a creative exchange of ideas. It is also a privilege for an interdisciplinary meeting to have someone like David Peat as the host. There are a few individuals who can match his multidisciplinary scientific outlook which connects with the humanities, the fine arts and music. David and his co-workers are able to catalyze a true dialogue which always has been vital for new and foundational ideas in science, philosophy and art to arise. I look forward to many future meetings in the Pari Center.

Paavo Pylkkänen, PhD
University of Skövde, Sweden

The approach to Pari, on a warm, Spring morning, is beautiful! Suddenly, you turn the corner and there's this little mediaeval village perched on a hill, basking in the Tuscan sunlight!

There are few people around. The village population has declined drastically over the years, but it seems now people are rediscovering the beauty of this quiet place and houses are being bought for renovation as holiday homes. The buildings, cared for throughout the centuries, are in excellent condition and the whole town can be viewed during a leisurely hour's walk along the narrow streets and around the outer walls.

All paths seem to lead to the village square where the local bar, shop and even a hairdresser are to be found! In the evening, this is the place to meet the villagers and even without speaking Italian, you can enjoy the atmosphere and feel the harmony. One night, I sat quietly strumming my guitar and an old man tottered towards me, supported by a young girl. She indicated that her grandfather would like to play a tune. As he sat, wistfully playing and humming, I learned he had just celebrated his 94th birthday!

Pari is a place for people who enjoy the quiet life, a place for reflection.

Peter Herring

Why Pari?: It is nice to walk the clean winding streets of this small town and nod and smile to the townspeople and to have that simple gesture returned. And to know that that is all that there is to it. There is none of the touristy stuff that goes on in other places where people on the street have one thing or another to sell or to tout.

A feeling of authenticity pervades the town. Shops are available, but since everyone in the town knows where they are there is no need to put a sign out advertising what is for sale. Hence no signs.

The visitor very quickly becomes unselfconscious. Of course one doesn't blend in to a tightly knit community, but one quickly goes about the business that brought them to Pari in an easy and unselfconscious way. Townspeople are around, but not "in your face.".

If one needs to be reminded of just how rare a find is Pari, a quick trip to one of the "developed" tourist towns in Tuscany will bring a quick reminder: parking lots, tourist buses, noisy restaurants, and local townsfolk who look at tourists not as objects of interest but as bringers of currency.

May Pari always maintain its unique character.

I should add that the unique character of Pari comes through in the honesty and authenticity of the work that David Peat is undertaking in Pari. Let's face it, a meeting in New York or Paris or London is affected by the context of the place. The participants bring to the table something of the atmosphere of the place. So too with Pari. Here the participant brings to the table a sense of calm, mutual respect and intellectual and personal safety. In all, a perfect place to try out ideas, to listen to others and see their point of view, and to reflect on one's own point of view vis a vis the others.

Dr. A.J. Cordell, Special Advisor, Information Technology Policy,
Industry Canada, Ottawa

Firstly, I would like to thank David and Maureen for letting me stay with my husband, Gordon, even though I wasn't taking a course. I have never been so relaxed in a long time. It is a different way of life than I have experienced. The people of Pari were very friendly even though I could not speak any Italian although I did try and have a go.

Pari was very quiet but also very peaceful. The food was out of this world, unlike the fast food that we usually eat.

Siena is a bus ride away, lovely city to walk around spend some (or a lot of) money. The ice creams in Siena are gorgeous. San Galgano is close by. There is the real Sword in The Stone (amazing) this is centuries old.

The houses have so much character. There is also a strong community in Pari which is missing in towns in England. We watched a video of a Festival in Pari and everybody comes together - it's amazing. My husband took david's course and some of the group went to another village close by which had a Festival on there, and everybody was enjoying themselves.

People might think this a place to go for older couples, but this is not the case. In all honesty if you want to go away, relax and chill out Pari is the place to go.

Claire Appleby (aged 26)

I attended the first meeting of the Accademia dei Pari in the summer of 2000. David Peat had gathered together 20 or so academics to discuss the consequences of the recent changes in the University structures geared towards more visible accountability. Pari provided the necessary conditions for a very different kind of discussion to take place. The meeting venue was ideal for such exchanges. Refreshments were well organised for the meetings. The environs of the village provided plenty of opportunities for informal discussion in the fresh air. It was traffic free so we could walk and talk without distractions for as long as we liked.

The village also provided generous meals for the participants in the village hall so that the discussions could continue. The cafe/bar also provided an opportunity for a more relaxed evening for those not exhausted from the activities of the day. In all I would say that Pari offered the best atmosphere for discussion I have come across in many of my travels.

Professor Basil Hiley, Dept Physics,
Birkbeck Collge, University of London

It seems a long time since the splendid meeting you arranged last September. It was a very original and inspiring enterprise and I know we all came away feeling enriched - both intellectually and in human terms. One seldom has the possibility of talking to people in so many and such various fields of endeavour; and to do it in the atmosphere provided by our hosts in Pari was an unforgettable experience. How can we conserve the momentum generated on that occasion?

You have a large pool of talented and energetic people (many of them - like yourself - internationally known) who come to Pari because they they will find rewarding interactions and a certain cultural fulfilment in helping to create something new.

Roy McWeeny, Professore Emerito, University of Pisa, Italy

In many ways the Pari Center represents an important new model for creative exchange in the 21st Century. As the pace of the world increases, leading edge organisations will recognise the importance of an oasis of reflection and calm such as Pari. The Center provides the facilities, personnel, and location to allow creative people to come together to generate new ways of thinking.

Chris Drane, Professor of Computer Systems Engineering, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Partecipo con entusiamo al progetto di Pari perché combina insieme due novità interessanti: da una parte la modalità di approccio alla cultura e al pensiero che, oltre al valore dei contenuti attualissimi, favorisce un reale approfondimento attraverso incontri di piccolo gruppo che permettono partecipazione, dialogo costruttivo, scambio e apprendimento di saperi, il tutto in uno spazio semplice e accogliente che ha cura dell'individuo e con un tempo rilassato a misura d'uomo. Tutti aspetti sempre meno presenti laddove si fa cultura in forma sia accademica sia di massa.

Da un altro lato - questo il secondo pregio - gli stessi argomenti, lo stesso taglio interdisciplinare e internazionale, volendo anche la modalità appena descritta potrebbero svolgersi in molti luoghi altrettanto accoglienti sparsi per il mondo. Il Center for New Learning vuole invece fare di Pari un luogo di riflessione, un'esperienza culturale di avanguardia anche rispetto al tema localismo/globalizzazione.

Il recupero dei borghi antichi sta seguendo in Italia logiche di turismo artistico-culturale, di agriturismo, di ricaduta soprattutto commerciale per le popolazioni locali. Come se questi centri e i loro abitanti non avessero una loro parola, un loro sviluppo, una possibile crescita dall'interno che opportunamente favorita potesse emergere o comunque correggere l'unilateralità della tendenza generale. Bellezze naturali e artistiche, memoria storica, cibo e tradizioni rischiano di ridursi a nuovi oggetti di consumo o di progettualità estranee.

Il tentativo di una integrazione creativa, ben rappresentato dall'esperienza personale di David Peat che risiede e lavora a Pari, e di altre persone, tra cui mi includo, che si muovono con una sensibilità analoga, apre la strada, tutta da percorrere, verso possibilità più equilibrate e rispettose di tutti gli elementi vitali che da sempre caratterizzano le comunità umane, incluse quelle contemporanee.

Dr. Elena Liotta, Jungian Analyst

Living in Pari means living in a world which is far away from the hustle and bustle of modern cities. The distance to nowadays life is not only achieved in a geographical but also in a spiritual sense. The hill-top village breathes peace and harmony and the village people are discreet and friendly, a behaviour which enhances the feeling of well-being.

Artists are in the right place in Pari. You can climb on the highest peaks of creativity as you can feel the natural mystic of the medieval village and the surrounding mountains and woods. Here you can feel free like a bird and fly high over mundaneness and harsh reality.

The flow of nearby sulphuric thermal baths (Bagni di Petriolo) relaxes your body and spirit after work. Taking a stroll through nearby cultural sites, which date back to Etruscan times more than 2000 years ago, inspires your soul and enriches your artworks. Above all the excellent food and wine from the region satisfies your stomach and keeps you healthy.

What else do you need to work creatively?

Dorothée and Patrick Lebrun, Artists

The significance of what Pari can potentially offer to individuals or groups of people is best appreciated when contrasted with what is happening in most people's day-to-day working environment. As an academic I am best placed to comment on the situation in research and learning institutions. Their organisation is increasingly centred on quality controls, financial efficiencies, risk, public and media perceptions and other such issues of management. Meanwhile, their capacity to promote intellectual stimulation or encourage reflexive and speculative practices is becoming extremely limited.

Scholars and other workers are seeking opportunities outside traditional institutions to satisfy their imaginative, creative and regenerative needs. There is therefore an increasing demand for places and situations that provide appropriate environments and activities to support such basic but important requirements. It is an interesting but open question as to what this provision may consist of. What is exciting about Pari is that it has already engaged positively and intelligently with this challenge. It is pioneering such a project through the realisation that its own future is tied up with the fulfilment of other people and with the active participation of the whole village community. Its historical and cultural traditions as well as its inspiring location and setting provide the rest of the ingredients for success.

Dr Chris Philippidis, Head, School of Interdisciplinary Sciences, University of the West of England.

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