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This Season, Send A Valentine Via T-Shirt

Social Textiles enables phrases and messaging to flash across clothing, creating wordless communication.

Talk about a statement piece. Social Textiles, a new series of “wearable computing fabrics” from MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group, allows phrases and social messaging to flash across clothing, creating wordless communication. A melding of thermochromic dye, haptic feedback, and human capacitance detection, the clothing sends wearers a gentle “tap” when other Social Textilites are within 12 feet. This clothing also enables you to tell how compatible you are with other users by filtering wearers by interest and social experiences that have been pre-programmed. When two users touch or shake hands, they’re able to download information and learn more. Marketed as an icebreaker tool, the creators hope Social Textiles will empower people to sport their online personas on their sleeves.

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All's Fair in Love: Try These Fair Trade Valentine's Day Gifts

This year, share the love by choosing Fair Trade with these can’t-fail Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and for those of you looking to give a meaningful gift, we’re here to help. Show your loved ones how much you truly care by gifting something that supports workers' rights, protects the environment, and positively influences communities around the world.

Check out these Valentine’s Day gift ideas, and the inspiring stories of the hardworking farmers and workers that made these gifts possible.
Roses

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Valentine's Day Intermission: The Science of Love (It's Like Cocaine Addiction)

Scientists have discovered that the brain of someone in love looks similar to a brain of someone high on cocaine.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDMwpVUhxAo

Scientists have discovered that the brain of someone in love looks similar to a brain of someone high on cocaine. Ever known someone who was constantly falling in love? As it turns out, they're probably an addict.

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This Valentine's Day, Celebrate All Kinds of Love

A new Tumblr, Occupy Valentine's Day, urges us to look past corny, manufactured romance in favor of a more authentic love.


Valentine's Day tends to get on people's nerves. Singles are excluded by default, and many couples don't enjoy their romance corporatized, redwashed or chocolatey. Thankfully, there's an antidote: a new Tumblr started by feminist writer Samhita Mukhopadhyay called Occupy Valentine's Day. The site urges us to look past the corny, manufactured traditions of the holiday in favor of a more authentic love—with our partners, our friends, our children, our pets, even (especially) ourselves.

Sure, there are some curmudgeonly entries; one post features a stick figure holding up Cupid at gunpoint. But the lion's share of the posts are little celebrations of everyday warm fuzzies, ones that flout the dominant image of a picture-perfect straight couple smooching over candlelight and oysters. One contributor's valentine is her daughter: "Today I’m 29 years old with a five year old. We are going to make cookies and get manicures." An after-school art teacher doesn't "get into all the hoopla" but is a "sucker for Valentine's Day crafts": "We didn’t have to buy anything, we just made something special with paint and paper," she writes of her art class. Occupy Valentine's Day celebrates solid friendships, same-sex love affairs, loyal puppies, and treasured alone time with boxed wine and Netflix. (It also features a Bart Simpson gif, a George W. Bush soundbite, and vintage Sufragette leaflets.)

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Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Evil

Many chocolates, diamonds, and flowers are made under unethical practices. Here's a guide to choosing wisely.


Speaking cynically, Valentine's Day is a holiday that encourages compulsory, conspicuous consumption in the name of love. Speaking practically, even the holiday's haters are likely to show affection with a floral arrangement or tennis bracelet at some point down the line. Unfortunately, many of Valentine's Day's standard romantic gifts are produced under unethical practices. (Might we suggest a simple handmade valentine?) If you're wedded to the holiday's traditional offerings, here's a guide to choosing wisely:

FLOWERS. Last year, we discussed the violent labor practices that make your romantic flower arrangement from major markets like Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya. Flower farm workers around the world have reported sexual harassment, physical assault, rock-bottom wages, and dangerous working conditions while picking the roses in your Valentine's Day bouquet. Luckily, select florists do offer fair trade-certified flowers: Try One World Flowers or Inbloom Group. And recently, growing attention to these unethical working conditions has encouraged major flower companies to stock more ethically-sourced offerings, as well. 1-800-Flowers' "Planet Friendly Smile Collection" claims to offer flowers from "domestic and international flower farms that follow socially and environmentally responsible practices," while FTD's "Go Green Living" features fair trade-certified, "eco-friendly" bouquets. But the bulk of their business still relies on questionably-sourced flowers.

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What Do the World's Most Romantic Cities Have in Common?

We love—and fall in love in—cities that engender the main elements of smart, sustainable urbanism.


Kaid Benfield, Sustainable Cities and Smart Growth Director for the NRDC, answers this question in his annual Valentine's Day must-read post on the intersection of smart, sustainable urbanism, livable streets, and romance:

Prague. Venice. Rome. Paris. These are some destinations that perennially make "ten-most-romantic cities” lists. I just looked at three such sites, and all four cities were consensus picks. Vienna and Lisbon each made two of the lists.

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