Ah, Valentine's Day. Apparently two thirds of us do something to acknowledge the holiday (complain though we may), so we might as well do something good with our time, energy and money. Of course, there are all the Valentine's Day cliche—flowers, chocolates, cards—and their green equivalents, but we've been reading about that stuff for years, right? There must be more...
For starters, as with all gift-giving occasions, I prefer giving services rather than things. Who doesn't like a massage, or a facial?
The best little spa in Brooklyn, Audrey Spa, on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, has a special offer for gift-givers, and gift-receivers. Owner Yola's amazing facial is already a great deal at $75 (I swear it's the best facial in New York), but for every one purchased this month, either for yourself or as a gift, she'll donate $5 to BARC, Williamsburg's wonderful animal rescue. So, beauty freak, animal person, or a bit of both, you or your giftee will be happy. Why not treat her, or yourself, to two? (Mention BARC when you buy.)
Swing by the monthly Greenpoint Food Market (129 Russell St.) on the 13th, and stock up on local, handmade gourmet food items, from chocolates to baked goods to vegan pate. Dozens of vendors will have everything you need to prepare a heck of a stay-at-home feast for your sweetie. Who wants roses when there's homemade kimchee and chutney?
Dining out is also a great way to celebrate, as long as you steer clear of steakhouses (nothing says "I don't care" like a meal that takes years off your life, the planet's life and the life of another sentient being). Go veg! Uptown's Candle 79 won't disappoint even the most conventional of sweethearts: their elegant space, great service and excellent wine and sake list are a million miles from mung beans and brown rice. Downtown, Blossom and Counter are neck-and-neck in the race to elegant death-free dining. Both are also great places to have a drink or four: Counter mixes up amazing, sustainable cocktails (local gin!) and Blossom has a great selection of organic wines and beers.
Since Valentine's falls on a Sunday this year it's a good chance to spread your love around, unencumbered by the work day: find a way to care for someone outside your immediate family (however you define it). I'm gonna head up to the Greenpoint Reformed Church with a little bit of love for their amazing food programs: their wish list (coffee, paper plates, money...) is on their website, GreenpointChurch.org, and I figure I can pick up a couple of things they need and drop them off.
Interspecies love is just as valid as the person-on-person kind. If your heart's been broken by a human, why not turn to the canines and felines? The Mayor's Alliance is coordinating the month-long "I Love NYC Pets" adoption drive: check out their website for the (extensive) list of events (animalalliancenyc.org). Picking up a gorgeous guy or gal has never been so easy... And you won't have to take any of these beauties out for a prix-fixe dinner. Ever.
And if even that's too conventional for you, let me suggest you and that special someone attend Unmarriage Until Gay Marriage: take your honey up to the Bethesda Fountain at 1pm on V-Day, join me and Mr. Objector, and get yourselves unmarried, or un-committed, as a protest against unequal marriage laws. Couples will be riven (and riveted, I'll wager) by the rousing oratory of the Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping. A special musical guest will serenade, the church choir will croon, and we'll all take a stand in favor of LOVE, in all its equally valid forms.