I've been doing some research in the library, and found a couple things that are probably of interest to Jim and Timlynn, but may be of general interest as well.
I've been scouring the College library looking for any publications, but so far I've been unsuccessful...I'll let you know if anything turns up.
Also, of the list of agent-based modeling tools listed on the website maintained by Leigh Tesfatsion (http://www.econ.iastate.edu/tesfatsi/acecode.htm), the program RePast seems to be one of the more prominent, as I've come across links to it on several different web sites. I'll try to look into it somewhat before coming to Fairfield, to see if it might fit our needs.
And a question for Jim...what was the title of that book that's entitled "The Story Of B," and is the third book of a trilogy? ...I've been trying to check it out but can't remember the name.
In his book Linked , Albert-Laszlo Barabasi stresses the importance of hubs--the most prominent nodes--in networks. In a social network, these are the highly connected individuals who keep the network together; in a food economy such as Grinnell's or Fairfield's these are the large businesses that dominate the market. Barabasi discusses how scale-free networks--those networks that are not random and have some nodes that are much more important than others--are at once robust against failure and vulnerable to attack. They are robust against internal failure because they can function without the small nodes that are disproportionately affected by such failure, but are vulnerable to an attack aimed at the hubs of the network. Do these local food economies follow the network rules that Barabasi establishes? Would the removal of a small business in Grinnell go relatively unnoticed, while the destruction of Walmart would leave the market in tatters?