Action Figures: Network and Teamwork

Circle of Blue editorial intern Aubrey Blanche, gives us a peak behind the scenes of the new Action Figures series.

action figure rockefeller foundation water food energy global heroes

Image © Amanda Northrop / Circle of Blue
The Action Figures series highlights innovators in water, food, and energy and was inspired by the Rockefeller Foundation’s innovator award series.

I’ve been at Circle of Blue for about seven weeks now, and it has been a wild ride. When I first started, I was told that we would be rolling out a new project to coincide with director J. Carl Ganter’s innovator award from the Rockefeller Foundation. The “Action Figures” series, as we’re calling it, would highlight other innovators from around the world in the fields of water, food, and energy — almost as our way of paying forward the Rockefeller award and idea.

For me, one of the best parts of being an intern at Circle of Blue is that, frankly, I don’t feel like an intern. From the very beginning, I was part of the meetings that conceived this project that I’m now working almost full time on (and more or less directing). I helped develop the concept and choose the initial Action Figures list, and I am one of the two point people — the other is my fellow editorial intern, Lydia Belanger — on interviewing and writing.

Another highlight of the project is getting to work so closely with the rest of the office on nearly every aspect of these profiles.

  • Graphic design interns Alec Aja and Amanda Northrop have been creating mind-blowing graphics to publish alongside the profiles.
  • Data intern Varun Mangla created a database to help coordinate all of the information we have on our Action Figures, so that we can build a network of innovators from around the globe.
  • Editors Keith Schneider and Aubrey Ann Parker oversee every profile before it runs.
  • Web editor Jordan Bates created the layout design, which is different from our typical site design.
  • Even reporters Brett Walton and Nadya Ivanova — neither of which works from our home office in Traverse City, but, rather, Seattle and Chicago, respectively — have each written a profile.

As we get more Action Figures added to this network, we have more and more suggestions coming in about who we should profile. But we’re always looking for more.

Do you have any suggestions about who is coming up with innovative solutions to the global resource crises? Let us know by emailing, Tweeting @circleofblue with the #actionfigure hashtag, or comment below. Have questions about what it’s like to be an intern for Circle of Blue? Email me at

Aubrey Blanche
Circle of Blue editorial intern

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