In Memory of Celia Zaentz

Celia working on the Blue C Community Garden.

We lost an important member of the Ecologistics / Central Coast Bioneers family with the passing of founding board member Celia Zaentz on July 25, 2016, at the age of 91.

Celia, a dedicated environmentalist, began attending the national Bioneers Conference in San Rafael in the 1990s. In 2008, she convinced her niece, Stacey Hunt, and Michael Jencks to join her at the conference, forever changing their lives. In 2010, the three decided to bring the Bioneers to the Central Coast and the idea for Central Coast Bioneers was born. Celia was a major financial backer of the new corporation and served as its treasurer for three years.

Celia had an amazing life, marrying jazz bassist Charles Mingus in 1951 and starting legendary jazz label Debut Records with him in New York in 1952. Celia was friends with all of the greats at that time, including Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell. After divorcing Mingus, Celia moved to San Francisco, where she took a job with a small Berkeley label, Fantasy Records. She fell in love and married Saul Zaentz and the couple eventually bought Fantasy. Shortly after, they discovered John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival, which became one of the biggest bands of the 1970s. Saul had always wanted to produce movies and they formed Fantasy Films, which later went on to produce “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus,” and “The English Patient.” Celia went from hobnobbing with jazz greats to the inner circles of Hollywood.

Celia and Saul parted ways in the late 1970’s and she set out on a period of self-exploration, reading books written by Freud and Jung, and self-help books, such as I’m OK, You’re OK, and Games People Play. She attended EST, the training created by Werner Erhard, and a course called “Alternatives for Living” taught by Jungian therapist Phil Mitchell. This interest persisted throughout Celia’s life and she later attended courses taught by Depok Chopra, even traveling to India to take his seminars and becoming a meditation trainer.

In 2007, Celia moved to Los Osos to be near family and was a busy volunteer with the Natural History Museum in Morro Bay and Circle of Friends. She produced two film shorts on Mneme Art Therapy, which were screened at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. In 2012, Celia obtained a seed grant from the Pollination Project to found the Blue C Community and Demonstration Garden on land she owned in Los Osos.

We miss Celia, her courage, and energy and will strive to reach the example she set for us in her determination to preserve this wonderful planet!