The Blue Marble Project, founded in 2010 by Alex Matthiessen, is a public interest strategic communications and advocacy firm working with for-profit and not-for-profit clients to advance significant environmental policy goals, projects, or products. The firm’s services include environmental and regulatory research, advocacy, network and coalition building, fundraising, media, and political and campaign strategy.
BMP formed the Move NY campaign in 2010 in response to the crisis facing the City’s transportation network: severe service cuts, escalating fares and tolls, and a dwindling funding base for the maintenance and improvement of our transit and road network.
In 2012, BMP joined forces with “Gridlock” Sam Schwarz. As a taxi driver, a transportation engineer, and NYC Traffic Commissioner, Sam saw it all on New York’s streets. Those experiences led him to develop a long-term solution to New York’s traffic woes centering on a “fair tolling” approach. But Gridlock Sam knew that ideas and implementation are two different things. Together, the team crafted a holistic strategy that addresses the needs of a wide variety of groups each of whom have different priorities. The process has been successful in part because of the team’s transparent approach that embraces inclusion, patience, flexibility, and sensitivity to stakeholder priorities.
Alex Matthiessen, Campaign Director
Alex is president of Blue Marble Project, an environmental consulting firm based in New York City. From 2000-2010, Alex was CEO and president of Riverkeeper, a Hudson Valley-based organization best known for leading the decades-long campaign to reclaim and restore the Hudson River and protect the NYC Watershed. Previously, Alex served as a special assistant in the Office of U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and was the grassroots program director for the Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco. Alex currently sits on the Board of the Catskill Mountainkeeper and The Tributary Fund, and previously served on the boards of Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Hudson River Improvement Fund. Alex holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a BA, with degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies, from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
In 2010, with the encouragement and support of Charles Komanoff (see below) and the Nurture Nature Foundation, Alex formed the Move NY campaign in order to develop and promote a new plan for addressing NYC’s twin problems of traffic congestion and underfunding of its transportation infrastructure.
He lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Sam Schwartz, PE
Sam is the creator of the Move NY Plan, and coined the word “gridlock” back in the 1970s. Ever since, he’s been known affectionately as “Gridlock Sam”. A native of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Sam drove a cab before becoming a traffic engineer. He worked in the NYC Department of Traffic as an engineer in the 1970s, personally intervening to close the Manhattan Bridge when it was on the verge of collapse, and then served as NYC Traffic Commissioner from 1982-1986. When the Traffic Department was folded into the Department of Transportation, Sam served another four years as DOT’s Chief Engineer/First Deputy Commissioner.
After nearly twenty years in public service, in 1990 Sam joined Hayden-Wegman Consulting Engineers, Inc. as Senior Vice President in charge of transportation engineering, infrastructure, quality control and planning.
In the summer of 1995, Sam Schwartz Engineering opened its doors with a staff of two. Since that time, the company has grown to include over sixty diverse professionals. Today, under Sam’s direction, Sam Schwartz Engineering produces some of the finest work in civil engineering, planning, and urban design, including, most recently, the transportation plan for Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
In 2010, Sam began talking with communities throughout the New York region about how a new transportation plan could work for them, and in 2011 presented the first version of his plan. In the summer of 2012, he teamed up with Move NY to try to make his plan a reality in New York State.
Sam also writes the Gridlock Sam traffic & transit column for the NY Daily News.
Eduardo Castell, Political Advisor
Eduardo Castell brings over 20 years of experience as a campaign professional and government executive. Mr. Castell also has worked on political strategy, field operations, GOTV, media and policy aspects of campaigns at the municipal, state and federal levels. Most recently, Mr. Castell was campaign manager for Bill Thompson’s impressive 2009 Mayoral run and served as the campaign’s television spokesman appearing in numerous interviews and debates. He also spearheaded Mr. Thompson’s successful 2001 election as City Comptroller, Rep. Velazquez’s re-election campaigns in 1994 and 1996 and GOTV efforts for Clinton-Gore’s 1992 combined campaign in Connecticut.