In the early days of the Occupy movement, elegantly dressed office ladies in Admiralty wishing to join protesters had a problem. Unless someone was around to help, the 60cm barriers surrounding the occupied sites were a near-insurmountable obstacle for anyone wearing a tight skirt. Not any more. In an example of the numerous ways the sites and the lives of people at them have evolved to meet needs, improvised staircases made from scrap wood now provide access at regular intervals. The creator of the steps is retired garment-factory manager Chan Wing-fai. Chan gets up early almost every morning to salvage wood from a refuse station near his home in Lai King. "I have never picked up trash before, nor did I think I would ever do it," the 68-year-old said in Admiralty on a recent afternoon, as he coached a group of young people on how to make chairs with discarded furniture. "Originally I built the staircases with boxes of bottled water but they were not very durable," he said. "Then I decided to strengthen them with planks." Across the three protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, similar stories are being told in a movement that was planned as a three-day sit-in but has now passed the one-month mark. On Harcourt Road, a "study hall" where class-boycotting students continue their education can now seat 200. An elderly man named C. L. Chang was the carpenter for that project. Like Chan, he carried dumped boards from Wan Chai to Admiralty every day for a week, which were fashioned into chairs for students using the study room. "As the study room became a new landmark in Admiralty, people - and even a restaurant - started sending tables and chairs to us. Furniture stores also sent us some sample cabinet boards of high quality." Opposite the Admiralty Centre railway exit, freelance designer Pat is managing a newly established "Freedom Quarter" - two zones that together offer about 100 tents for protesters to stay overnight. Pat barely knew other protesters before the police fired the 87 canisters of tear gas on September 28 that galvanised the protest. Someone invited her to take care of a booth a few nights after she began camping in Harcourt Road, and she ended up taking on the role of "tent manager". To spend a night in the Freedom Quarter, protesters must line up at the booth at 8.30pm and read through a set of guidelines before checking in. They are given star stickers for their tent, which they have to remove the next day to indicate they have left. "I didn't have any experience and I just learned how to do it bit by bit," Pat said. "I guess it's just a rule of nature. People live in groups and it's natural that every one of them will pick up a different role and gradually build the community." At the less-populated Causeway Bay site, a library corner offers protesters a choice of books donated by supporters. Next to the library corner on Yee Woo Street is a white board that provides updates on the democracy movement - such as the latest stances of student leaders and officials - and a timetable for civic lectures. "Everyone can write something on the board - there is no leader here," said an elderly man who refused to give his name. The five-odd supply stations on Nathan Road in Mong Kok evolved independently, with the managers not knowing one another. Now they have created a group on WhatsApp that they use to keep in close communication. "We will give the group a shout if we are running out of certain types of supplies, and see if anyone can pass us some," said Ping Lee, who runs a station opposite Shantung Street. The stocks are donated by democracy supporters. Lee puts a list up next to his booth with updates about what is needed. "People just drop the stuff and go," Lee said. "There was one time we received more than 20 boxes of bottled water just an hour after we put up a notice. People are very passionate." The protest site in Mong Kok is also well-known for its pantheon of deities installed by protesters to guard the barricades, which includes Jesus, Buddha and war god Kwan Tai. Student Tony Chan, part of a team that built the Kwan Tai shrine on Mong Kok Road, said it began with a picture of the deity, and evolved into a statue and then the present temple. They eventually incorporated the temple into part of the defence line by using bamboo and wooden frames from construction sites. Mirana May Szeto, an assistant professor in the University of Hong Kong's department of comparative literature, said the protesters had demonstrated that they treasured the community they had developed. "We have very small homes and we value the sharing of space," she said. "People actually want to stay as long as possible to ensure the sense of community and livelihood." As the movement passed its first month, protesters understood that the community they had built would inevitably be demolished, but hoped the spirit could remain. "Hongkongers used to be quite cool to each other, never saying hello to our neighbours and not even knowing their surnames after 20 years," Chan the staircase man said. "Perhaps this movement could make a change in everyone." Additional reporting by Chris Lau Former Beijing democracy movement leader Zhou Fengsuo backs Occupy Zhou Fengsuo, a former student leader of Beijing's democracy movement in 1989, has flown in from the US to offer his support to Occupy protesters. "Twenty-five years ago ... the first Hongkonger I knew told me that he saw hope for China in Tiananmen Square. And today, your presence here represent the hopes of China's future democracy," Zhou told the crowd in Admiralty last night. "We failed to implement democracy in China 25 years ago, and now we need the young people of Hong Kong to stand up for their rights." Zhou, who had been No5 on Beijing's wanted list during the Tiananmen movement, said he had decided to join Hong Kong's "umbrella movement" after seeing images of police using tear gas to disperse protesters on September 28. He said the Occupy protest resembled the situation in Beijing in 1989, with young people fighting - and sacrificing - to make their dreams of democracy come true. But he believed the protest would not suffer the same bloody ending as Hong Kong enjoyed the rule of law, press freedom and a modern social media system that allows for swift information flow. He refused to offer advice to the student leaders, who he said had a better understanding of the situation, but he encouraged Hongkongers to use their creativity to press the movement forward. Zhou, who will stay in Hong Kong for a week, said he would camp overnight with protesters in Admiralty. He also plans to visit the June 4 memorial museum in Tsim Sha Tsui. Like many Beijing student activists, Zhou fled to US and lived in exile after the June 4 crackdown. An earlier version of this story said former Tiananmen student leader Zhou Fengsuo fled to the US after the June 4, 1989 crackdown "with no prospect of returning to his motherland." Zhou managed to slip back into Beijing in June 2014 before he was detained, interrogated and put on a plane back to the US.