Newsletter May 2023

Third Anniversary Special

The 1st CFS e-Newsletter was published in May 2020 during the first COVID-19 lockdown. Three years on, we should still guard against COVID-19. , wear a face mask when social distancing is impossible and arm yourself with booster vaccines.

Easter Pop-up Stall


Climate Action Art Competition

To raise awareness of urgent climate actions needed. Young people (aged 10 – 25 yr ) are welcome. Click here to enter. If you would like Bibi to host a ‘Climate Action Art Workshop’ for your organisation/school, just shoot her an email.

One-On-One & Small Group CFS Youth Mentoring Program

at Social Enterprise Community Hub (Level 1, 2 Davy Rd, South Eveleigh) on Thursdays (10 – 4 pm). Available both as Virtual or face-to-face meetings. Booking essential. Enquiry 

Sat 6 May (2- 5 pm) Family and Women Forum

The Lions District Family and Women Forum (free) – aims to raise awareness of three issues: “Domestic Violence, Climate Change and Wellbeing.” Address: Boronia Grove Community Centre, 40 Victoria Street Epping. Register online.

Term 2 (May to July) Mandarin Language School

Good command of a second language (e.g. Mandarin) will help develop children’s life skills and give them more understanding about society and culture. Start now. Beginners Mandarin, for ages 5 to 13. The opportunity

Thurs 11 May Pop-up Stall at HSBC Headquarters’ Pre-Mother’s Day Community Event (10 am – 2 pm)

Sat 13 MayEve of Mother’s Day Pop-Up Stall (9 am – 1 pm)

You will find our pop-up stall outside Little Giant Roaster Café (9 am to 1 pm) Succulent Terrariums, Succulents in fishbowls, DIY Kits (Succulent Terrariums and Colour-Sand Glass).

Thurs 18 May – Pilot Mindfulness Botanical Drawing Workshop (3:45 – 5 pm)

This workshop will be held at Chatswood Westfield Community Space (communal tables near Spring St entrance off Patterson Café. All materials will be provided. Join Bibi for afternoon tea from 3:30 pm for 3:45 pm start. Booking essential. Enquiry 

Sun 21 May Bushwalk of the Month (10 am – 12:30 pm)

CFS Bushwalk of May 2023 – Community Flower Studio For those of you who prefer to just join us for a picnic, meet at Echo Point Park at 12:30 pm. Bring a plate to share.

Sat 27 May Social Enterprise Festival at UTS (10 am to 3 pm).

CFS will host a ‘Flower Crown Workshop’ at this festival. There are many free gifts for attendants. Book your FREE tickets here.

ANZAC Day Flat Rock Gully Walk

Youth Week Acrylic Pouring Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre

Reflections on past events!

Bibi started working at the Social Enterprise Community Hub (Level 1. 2 Davy Rd, South Eveleigh, just 8 minutes’ walk from Redfern Station) every Thursday from 6 April. It provides state-of-the-art facilities including 2 soundproof video/teleconference cubicles, meeting rooms and a kitchen.

The CFS monthly pop-up stall was well-attended on the Easter weekend (Sat 8 April). Once again, we handed out over 10 ‘Petal-it-Forward’ bunches to put a smile on someone’s face.

Bibi and Andrew G. attended a presentation on ‘Co-design Community Development Program’ at Sydney Design Thinking Meetup on Thur. 13 April. Check out the article Andrew wrote in the ‘Subscriber’s Corner’ about 3 such programs and the lessons learnt.

The 3rd Acrylic Pouring Workshop on Sat. 15 April was a full house and attended by 3 generations. One of the returning participants recommended the workshop to her niece, who brought along her kids. We had a great time making a creative ‘mess’, trying new techniques and enjoying each other’s company. Some of us went to Chatswood’s San Churro to continue our ‘brainstorming’ session on the topics to cover in CFS’ new initiative ‘Youth Mentoring Program’ at the community hub at South Eveleigh. CFS is truly a co-design and co-produce youth-focused not-for-profit organization.

Bibi piloted a mini-workshop to train two young members to be co-facilitators for the Colour-Sand Glass workshop at South Eveleigh Community Hub on Thurs 20 April. It went very well. Andrew G. and Korak C each took home a fabulous Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass as Mother’s Day presents. Bibi was pleased to have 2 co-facilitators for CFS’ next workshop.  

The debut fundraising Bunnings BBQ took place at Chatswood on Sat 22 April. Team CFS started setting up at 7 am and by 3:58 pm, we’ve sold 700 sausages! What a day! After deducting the cost, CFS made around $1,700. A big thank you to all the volunteers and supporters. This fund would help further expand our existing creative workshops (a couple new ones are ‘in progress’) and develop the new mentoring program.

McKayla T. and Bibi co-facilitated a Youth Week Flower Crown Workshop at Hornsby Westfield on Mon 24 April. Everyone came out of the workshop with a unique flower crown and the biggest smile on their face. The next Flower Crown Workshop will be on Sat 27 May as part of the Social Enterprise Festival at UTS.

The CFS ANZAC Day Walk and Picnic on 25 April was an enjoyable experience for everyone. We walked along the scenic Flat Rock Gully, pondered upon the Henry Lawson Cave, took a look at some Indigenous artwork and the beautiful Middle Harbour. We also played ‘Easter Egg Tapping Game’ and ate ANZAC biscuits. Most importantly paying tributes to the ANZAC and the Australian veterans. 

Download the Return & Earn App onto your phone and nominate ‘Petal-it-Forward’ as the charity campaign for your refund to go. An anonymous sponsor will match the amount donated, so your contribution will be doubled!

If you would like to order a DIY Succulent Terrarium, Colour-Sand Glass or Flower Crown Kitsfor Lunar New Year, check out the CFS online Shop.

The Petal-it-Forward Campaign is proudly sponsored by generous donations from Return & Earn Scheme and supporters. Donations to CFS are tax deductible. Donate – Community Flower Studio

There are many ways to support CFS: become a member or contribute to the columns here. I’m always looking for a great recipe passed down from generation to generation. If you have a story to share, either write a short piece around 250 words or shoot us some photos. If there is a book or a movie you want to write a review, the CFS e-Newsletter will be happy to share with our e-Newsletter subscribers.  Contact Bibi on

If you would like to purchase a DIY Succulent Terrarium Kit for a loved one or a friend as a present, order online here !

This is a ‘Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass’ DIY Kit which comes with a youth-approved instruction sheet and a QR code to the YouTube clip of previous workshops. Available here.

Here is a new DIY kit – Flower Crown

Flower Crown DIY Kit

Flower of the Month

By Dr Bibiana Chan


Tulips (Tulipa) are a genus of Spring blooming perennial. It is one of the most cross-bred and hybridised bulbs. There are thousands of recognised varieties with a wide range of flower colours, patterns and forms. One particular pattern looks like “flames” which is a side-effect of a type of tulip-specific virus called “Tulip Breaking virus”.

There are some varieties described as “black” (deep dark red). Blue is the only colour missing. A typical tulip is a goblet-shaped bloom held on a long stem (up to 65 cm) when young, becoming more cup-like in shape as it opens.

Planting and caring are relatively simple: tulips enjoy cool temperate climates with good-quality, free-draining soil; full sun or moderate shade (protected from wind). To achieve best blooms, feed with blood and bone at planting, and then apply a controlled-release fertiliser as leaves start to develop. Tulips are quite maintenance-free once established. It’s important to let the foliage to completely finish its cycle – leaving it on until it dies right back. The bulb needs to store energy for next year’s flowering season. Watch Melissa King visits the Tesselaar Tulip Festival in Victoria for more tulip caring tips

Meanings of different colours of Tulips

Red: Perfect LOVE. White: Forgiveness. Pink: happiness/confidence. Purple: Royalty. Yellow/Orange: Cheerful Thoughts.

Fun facts:

Tulip is often associated with Holland – it is its National Tulip Day on 3rd Saturday in January. If you’re in Amsterdam, you are welcomed to pick among 200,000 tulips for free in a specially designed tulip pick-up garden. Follow this family to view the Keukenhof Gardens in Holland

Just admire the amazing tulip fields in Holland brought to you by drone photography.

You may have come across a droopped tulip head. The trick to fix it is to poke a hole on the stem just below the flower head with a needle. During transportation, air bubbles are trapped at the end of the stem. When the stems are placed in water, air bubbles will rise up and block water from reaching the flower head causing the dropping. The hole acts as an exit for the air bubbles. Try it yourself.

Holland is the largest exporter of tulip bulbs in the world. Over 27,000 hectares of agricultural land are dedicated to flower bulbs, half are tulip bulbs. Approximately 2 billion tulip bulbs are produced and 90% are for export.  Watch this video clip on how technologies are used to plant, harvest and pack tulips in a farm. You will be amazed!

Symbol of International Friendship

In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered the future Queen Juliana and her family for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

The most noteworthy event during their time in Canada was the birth in 1943 of Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. By 1963 the festival featured more than 2 million tulips, rising to nearly 3 million by 1995.

The story of ‘Floriade’ – Canberra’s Tulip Festival since 1988. Floriade – derived from the Latin verb “floreo” which means to be decked or covered with flowers” meaning “let it bloom”. It was a grand scheme announced for a year of grand displays of national sentiment. A gift from the ACT Administration to the city in celebration of Canberra’s 75th birthday and Bicentennial since white settlement in 1988. A total of 120,000 Tulips, 32,500 Scillas and 500,000 Grape Hyacinths – among thousands more flowers bloomed in Commonwealth Park.

Tulips are adored around the world, check out this video clip of Tulips in Washington

Plant of the month

by Remi H. (A Yr 11 student currently doing Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award with CFS)

Photo credit: Bibi

Bird’s Nest Fern

A giant Bird’s Nest Fern found not far from
the entrance to the Two-Creek Track, Lindfield.

Let me introduce you to the Bird’s nest fern! Native to Australia’s east coast, the bird’s nest fern, or known as Asplenium nidus, is a epiphytic species of fern, which means that it grows on the surface or a plant and gets its moisture and nutrients from its surroundings.

Bird Nest’s Fern at the CFS Nursery in Willoughby.

This beautiful fern has glossy leaves in a circular pattern, and the new leaves that emerge from the centre causes the plant to resemble a bird’s nest, hence the name. The bird’s nest fern will stay healthy once its living conditions are met. One of the best places to grow a bird’s nest fern is near a shower or bathroom or kitchens where the place will be very humid. They grow well in filtered sunlight and some shading, so its not recommended to expose them to direct sunlight. Avoid watering into the centre of the plant, but water the top inch of the soil when its dry to avoid mold growth inside the plant. Its best kept at temperatures from 10-22 degrees Celsius with a high humidity.

Baby Bird Nest Fern growing on a wall of moss.

If you want to propagate the plant, you can cut through the centre crown with a saw. Young ferns will also need to be replotted once a year until it starts to mature. When mature, they grow up to 3-5 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. They add a beautiful rainforest to your gardens or living area! Do be aware that the new leaves are very fragile however, and its best to leave them alone.

This Bird’s Nest Fern is truly ‘hanging in there’!

This photo really reminded me of hiking in the middle of the rainforest in the South Island of New Zealand. The rocks and every surface is covered by moss.

This photo was taken along the Ferndale Park Track in Chatswood. Join us for a bushwalk on this track on 18/6/23.

Bushwalking Tips for the Blue Mountains

By Ethan W. (A Yr 9 student currently doing Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award with CFS)

I recommend Wentworth Falls. There were many views and track options to choose from. If you want to get sore legs, you should go on the Grand Canyon Walking Track. The Sublime Point Lookout was also a great view.

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Recipe of the Month

By Dana Lee (Bibi’s Mama)

Traditional Chinese Walnut Cookies

Notes and translation by Bibi

To celebrate Mother’s Day, I’d like to pay tributes to ALL the mums, aunties and grandmas in the world who offer tender LOVING care to their children, nieces/nephews and grandkids. This hand-written recipe was sent by post from my mum in Ottawa, Canada. a little while ago. I recently found it in my drawer. I made a batch and served them at last month’s Acrylic Pouring Workshop as refreshment. I shared it here with you and hopefully this tradition of passing down family recipes from generations to generations will live on.


Walnut meal 150 g (freshly grinded walnut). Plain flour 600g. Icing sugar 200g. Cooking oil 2 cups. Baking soda 2 tsp. Salt 1 tsp. Egg yolk 2 (for coating).


  1. Mix ALL ingredients.
  2. Form into balls of approximately 30 g (1 oz) each. Line them on a baking tray spray with oil to avoid dough sticking onto the tray.
  3. Press them flat with a wooden spoon.
  4. Brush on the egg yolk to achieve a shiny look. You may add quarter of a walnut on top to decorate.
  5. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Bake cookies for 28 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. You may use double trays (place water between the 2 trays) to prevent burning the bottom of the cookies.

Note: this recipe made 60 cookies. I crushed some walnut pieces with a rolling pin to add some texture to the dough. Half the ingredients if you just want to give it a try. Store well for about a week. Can be frozen for later consumption. I only used 3/4 of the sugar to suit my personal taste.

Book Review

By Kim Wilkins

The author, a South African, is regarded as one of the world’s great writers.

The novel is about a mythical white South African landowning family, the Swarts.  We start in the last days of apartheid and jump into the post-apartheid era. We see the lives of the three siblings, Anton, Astrid and Amor through their own eyes.

The “Promise” is made to the black servant, Salome, that she will be given ownership of the small house she lives in.  Despite being the title it seems to be a side issue for most of the novel.

The author uses dark humour to detail the failings of the three siblings and the society and politics of South Africa. It was published in 2022 and is about 300 pages.

For a piece of literature which has been widely praised I found it a little disappointing.  Perhaps my expectations were too high. Its subject matter was somewhat repetitive and unnecessarily gruesome in some cases. Some of the humour left me cold.  Although I gather the story of the family is an allegory for the recent history of South Africa, I found that a bit too subtle and strained.

 It is a depressing book.  Although it is undoubtedly well written, I feel more could have been done to develop the characters. More could also have been made of the social development of the country as it covered such an interesting period in its history.

I would like to read another novel by this author to see if his undoubted story telling talents have a better focus.

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From the Desk of Bibi

Why so many young people are struggling?

This is the title of an article by Dr Noam Shpancer (a practising clinical psychologist in Columbus, Ohio, USA) published in Psychology Today in March 2023. His key messages were: new data indicate that young people (regardless of their gender) are languishing, global and cultural circumstances may be facilitating the decline in youth’s mental health, and today’s young people may encounter more stress but also be more emotionally vulnerable.  

I reflect on the last 3 years of COVID-19, social isolation or disconnection is the No. 1 culprit. There are more complex factors such as witnessing a parent or other adult in their home losing a job (29% CDC 2021). I recalled as a teenager myself facing one of my parent’s extremely challenging work circumstances, it definitely made me anxious.  

 Climate change may also be a factor – Mission Australia’s 2022 reported over 26% of the 18,800 young people (aged 15 – 19 yr.) surveyed were ‘very’ or ‘extremely concerned about climate change.

Social Media and excessive screen time during COVID-19 lockdown also contributed to lack of face-to-face interaction with people. There is a recent Australian Story reporting a pilot study to help teenage boys manage their gaming time which appeared to have taken over their lives. Collaborating with German researchers, Dr Warburton, from Macquarie University, has devised a three-month program to help these teenagers.

CFS Instagram account – share positive messages and images.

I’m well aware of the addictive nature of social media. When I first started a Facebook account in 2007, soon after I completed my PhD study, I was very keen to invite my friends to sign up. I sent a disclaimer along with the invitation, ‘Highly addictive, join at your own risk!’ According to Dr Shpancer, social media are addictive by design: they remove the user from the live company of other people. I find it very interesting to learn that social media also exposes users to an unrelenting stream of information which conveys the extremes (either negative like terror, crime, mayhem we fear or positive like beautiful rich people or places we envy). The unintended consequence is that young people experience heightened level of stress (there is too much to process) and envy (“I can never measure up”).

‘Helicopter Parenting’ can be playing a part too.  Parental over-involvement may be having the effect of making kids more anxious rather than more secure. Once again, the unintended consequence is that children often experience parental over-protection not as love (my mum cares about me) , but as doubt (my mum believes I can‘t handle it). Such parental doubt may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, turning into self-doubt.   

 In Australia, Prof. Ian Hickie shared in LinkedIn his concern about the rising prescriptions to treat anxiety and depression in children. He attributed one of the reasons as ‘not enough psychologists available to help them with other treatment options like behavioural and social interventions.’   

I believe we need to fundamentally change the way the available workforce of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, social workers, OTs and others with skills is coordinated. We need the experts to undertake assessments, so that young people are triaged appropriately to the right care, the first time. Once a young person has been assessed, then we can provide those who need medication and more complex care the care they need and we can help other young people develop skills to manage anxiety behaviourally. Those behavioural treatments can actually be delivered by a range of people including parents, teachers, friends and online education platforms.

In response to the rise of young people experiencing anxiety and depression, the Community Flower Studio will launch a new Youth Mentoring Program’. Last month, I facilitated an in-person brainstorming session asking our members what topics should be included. We came up with quite a long list (e.g. time management, study skills, career advice, stress-less tips etc., click here for the full list).  Some of our members are also keen to be a mentor.  As a member of the SECNA (Social Enterprise Council NSW & ACT), CFS is offered a discounted rate to use their state-of-the-art co-working space at South Eveleigh Community Hub (Level 1, 2 Davy Rd). There are 2 soundproof cubicles for video/teleconferences. I just started working there in April on Thursdays. I ran a small group in-person Facilitator Training there last month. If you know any young people who may like to have a casual chat (in-person or via Zoom) with Bibi, just shoot me an email ( to organize a suitable time. 


Community-Based Design by Andrew G.

(Andrew is a Year 9 student currently volunteering for CFS as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award)

Community-Base Design

The Sydney Design Thinking and SECNA (Social Enterprise Council NSW & ACT) initiated with about 50 minutes of refreshments of pizza and drinks such as alcohol and soft drinks. After the welcome, the co-organiser Zoe Gibson began the presentation, making references to the Gadigal Country and the White Australia policy as well as joking around the fact that Elon Musk bought Twitter and screwed it over. 

Walgett Cultural & Community Pop-up Hubs

The first speaker Lee Cooper (Executive Design Manager) introduced the concept of Community-based Design as a philosophy, rather than an approach. He introduced Walgett, an Aboriginal town full of negative social circumstances such as boarded up windows and high rates of crime. His organisation brought up a challenge to pool social connections as this social degradation was due to a lack of community groups to connect people. His team took to making a Place-Based approach to build social connections through a hub with the idea of “owned by no one, known by everyone”. Despite the increasing claims of need for mentors and mentoring, Walgett already had mentors but needed space and opportunity to work. 

Towards the north of Australia in Singapore, a hierarchical society is present as millions of common jobs such as labourers and security guard roles are considered to be normal. The government worked with the Alliance for Action organisation including Bill Bannear (General Manager for Consortia, Coalitions and Ecosystems), to offer help to these lower ranking people in society. Major positions such as the Minister of Labour were present in these gatherings. 

Bill Bannear presented a project
conducted in Singapore.

Our other neighbour Papua New Guinea has an autonomous region called Bougainville, set to gain independence in 2027, but is a long way from becoming fully independent. Rohan Doherty (General Manager for International Development for the United Nation Development Program) led the team to make the Bougainville residents good entrepreneurs. One example is a local woman who redeemed aluminium cans for a few cents each and saved up enough money to buy a sewing machine and made clothes for friends and family. She realised that she could teach the girls to sew clothes and began making a small profit to live off of. She was one person who was already a good entrepreneur but did not know and did not want to have a formal business. So far 300 people have graduated, with 81% being female, around 30% being self-employed, and about 20% already being formally employed.

All 4 speakers answered questions from audience. From left to right: Lee Coopers, Jen McBride, Rohan Doherty and Bill Bannear.

Towards the end of the presentation, the speakers answered a few questions while Bibi and I quietly left at 8:10 pm.

Lessons learnt.

Looking back on this event, I can confirm that CFS is heading in the right direction through introducing a community-based design principle in our programs and involving young members to participate. These programs are able to lead a path for these young members to develop themselves and their potential.

Community Flower Studio Logo Explained

Community: CFS is a community to support young people facing mental health challenges.

Creative: CFS hosts events to unleash young people s creative talents.

Resource: CFS provides members with resources to enhance their wellbeing.  

Support: CFS  offers support to members to develop their potential.

Growth: CFS fosters a growth mindset which is helpful in dealing with challenges.

Recovery: CFS sees recovery as achievable and a journey to cherish.



Website: Mobile: 0412 613 073

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Address: 10-12 Clanwilliam St., Willoughby, 2068, NSW, Australia.