I first met Andrius face-to-face when he was attending an event in London on the theme of "Be the Change". We already knew each other online - probably through Janet Feldman - and wanted to meet while he was in the UK so I arranged to go to the venue during the lunch break. We both found the meeting interesting, so we met again in the evening, and the following day. My main focus at the time was still very much on forwarding the vision of my friend Peter Adetunji Oyawale.
I was surprised part way through our meeting on the second day when Andrius challenged me to talk about my own interests - completely separate from Peter's. People who know Andrius, and his wonderful online community Minciu Sodas (the Orchard of Thoughts) are familiar with his approach. He is very focussed on knowing people according to their values and the question they are trying to answer.
Andrius used people's questions as the focus for online groups (or "trees") in the Orchard of Thoughts. (He set up a group for me to lead called LearningFromEachOther). He nurtured and "cross pollinated' the trees - getting "crops" of ideas, questions, and communities of interest from them - at least, that is how I saw it. (I use the past tense as he had to abandon Minciu Sodas in order to earn some money.) I thrived in Minciu Sodas and look back on my time there as my online equivalent of studying for a higher degree - non-accredited of course.
Over the years I have got to know Andrius much better, online and face to face, usually being very appreciative of his originality and focus (and sometimes, I confess, being infuriated by what I see as the "over-development of these strengths" from originality into excessive-non-conformity and from focus into apparent-inability-to-listen-to-my-viewpoint-if-it-conflicts-with-his-own.) I include this negative observation because people who know us know that we are not always in agreement and may think I am not sincere if I only say postitive things - but I am very sincrere in all the positive things that I say.
My life is immeasurably richer for knowing Andrius. Like many of his friends and contacts in Minciu Sodas, I have gained new ideas, new knowledge, new insights and so much more including many highly valued friendships. This happened as I moved forward in Minciu Sodas, exploring answers to my question, thanks to his interest and support. In my experience Andrius is a man of great intelligence, creativity, open-ness, integrity and vision.
As I see it he pushes the boundaries of all kinds of ideas, many that I agree with in theory (as ideals and as future possibilities that I am working towards). However he lives out his ideas in practice. and in the present to the best of his abilities. I believe that many of the ideas and strategies that he has pioneered will become mainstream (just as it seems the ideas of the "health-food cranks" of the 60's have helped to influence the now commonly available vegetarian and organic options in restaurants and supermarkets). In my experience Andrius really does walk his talk - which is rare - and not necessarily comfortable (for him, or for others) - but is greatly to be valued. I am glad to know him.